I can't think of more intriguing player in an NL only league for 2010 then Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves. The Braves are quoted in saying in Feb 5th's Atlanta Journal Constitution that "Jason Heyward will have every opportunity to win the Right Field job". If you think about the only possible starters the Braves have right now in the OF are Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera & Matt Diaz. Both Diaz (who kills lefties but is so-so versus righties) and Cabrera are probably best suited to get 350 AB's each. That means a good spring and Jason Heyward will be a starter come opening day.
When reading up on Heyward, you find so many great things and so little bad signs. Heyward is a guy who has great patience, great feel for the game, has a plan for every AB, makes adjustments, uses the entire field (drives the ball to the opposite field) and outstanding instincts on the base paths. He is a 5 tool player. But those other intangibles I mentioned along with his tools has most people in baseball believing that Heyward will be one of the game's premier players for the next decade. The only negative at this time I can find is he has had a little bit of the injury bug. Nothing major, no bad back or anything like that but has had a few injuries. Heyward only has 886 professional AB's.
So how does one look at Jason Heyward in an NL only league? Well in an auction league, assuming you have to get 23 players for $260 (roughly $11 per player average) I would say if you can land Heyward for $17 or under this is a good bet for the 2010 season and in a keeper league a great deal because next year he is much more likely to break out. As a starter player I feel confident that he can give you good power numbers, hit for a decent average and give you some quiet steals (maybe 10) and give you at least a $17 return.
With Heyward's talent anything is possible, but you cannot count on Heyward from the get-go from being a monster player. For every Ryan Braun & Tim Lincecum who performed at a high level from the beginning there are so many players who turned into big players that it took time. Hey, most people in baseball will tell you Roy Halladay is the best starting pitcher in the game today. When Halladay first arrived to the majors he struggled and had to be sent back to the minors before coming back to majors and becoming the player he is today. Same thing happen to a guy from Commerce, Oakholma by the name of Mickey Mantle. So you cannot bank on a huge year from Heyward. However, I am saying that if you can land Heyward at $17 or even better less than that you will get at least a $17 year with the chance he does better than that in 2010 and in a keeper league maybe just maybe $35 year in 2011.
It's been a long time where I read so many reports on prospect that everyone was convinced he would be a huge player. Keep in mind, not everyone hits but I am willing to bet Jason Heyward makes it big time.
NL King - C.Lizza