Call them the Jason Heyward Nets

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – When manager Bobby Cox said that the Braves will probably install nets to protect cars from Jason Heyward’s prodigious batting-practice home runs, reporters thought he was kidding.

He was not kidding.

“I’m serious,” Cox said Thursday at Champion Stadium. “Smashing too many cars.”

Heyward has created a buzz that’s transcended Braves camp and spread throughout baseball, with tales of the 20-year-old outfield prospect’s hitting exploits becoming the stuff of blog- and Twitter-fueled legend.

As Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno could attest, this is not myth. This stuff is happening — Manno has an $3,400 estimate for repairs as proof.

That’s how much it’ll cost to fix a shattered sunroof on the car, which was parked in a small team-officials lot beyond right field Tuesday. Heyward has pulled numerous balls to — and even over – the parking lot this week.

That particular ball crashed through the roof, an estimated 440 feet from home plate. Another he hit that day dented a Coca-Cola truck as it rolled past right-center field.

Heyward hit one even longer on Wednesday, over a high wall at the back of the small parking lot, a drive that  sailed perhaps 450 feet – with wind blowing in.

On Thursday, he hit two screaming line drives, one that ricocheted high off a video board above right-center field, another off the parking lot wall.

Cox said Manno’s was the only window damage this week, but other cars had been dented.

“We should fine him, make him hit the ball the other way,” Cox said, smiling as he ate a bowl of soup Thursday following the Braves’ blustery morning workout.

It was unseasonably cool, but Heyward’s bat kept sizzling against the pedestrian fastballs coaches threw in the later rounds of batting practice. Like other hitters, Heyward hasn’t done much against actual pitchers throwing batting practice in the early days of camp, a time when pitchers are traditionally ahead of hitters.

But the titanic long balls he’s hit off coaches’ pitches are flying out of the park faster — and farther — than those hit by anyone else. And everyone has noticed.

Pitcher Tim Hudson said it sounded like a gunshot as he walked past the outfield as Heyward hit. Pitcher Derek Lowe said Heyward’s batting practice was frightening. Cox compared the sound of the ball off Heyward’s bat to what Cox heard when Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle hit. “That same sound,” he said. “That ring.”

Heyward could win the opening-day right field job with a good spring, and Cox said he’s not worried that all the attention or pressure could have an adverse affect. In fact, Cox said he had no concerns about Heyward, on or off the field.

“His outfield play is good. His running is good. His throwing is good,” Cox said. “He’s got great makeup. The hype, the media business, is not going to bother him one way or the other, whether he makes the team or doesn’t make the team.

“He’s got that kind of makeup. It’s really good.”

68 comments Add your comment

william

February 25th, 2010
5:30 pm

That’s my boy…now dent some pitchers in two months!!!

Scotty

February 25th, 2010
5:38 pm

second? third? wow! never been this close to the top before. Get at ‘em Heyward. He’ll be playing RF on opening day

wolverinebrave

February 25th, 2010
5:48 pm

“’We should fine him, make him hit the ball the other way,’ Cox said, smiling as he ate a bowl of soup Thursday following the Braves’ blustery morning workout.”

Love the soup detail, DOB.

Also, those of us on twitter have been appreciating all the updates–thanks.

Raider Fan

February 25th, 2010
5:50 pm

Wow. Just… wow.

WinSomething

February 25th, 2010
5:53 pm

Im getting excited about see this kid play. One of these blogs needs to have The Beatles, Dont Let Me Down, as its blog song.

Shane

February 25th, 2010
5:58 pm

Brad Komminsk could hit em a long way in BP too.

Thats not going to happen to this kid though I do worry about rushing him.

Mitchie-san

February 25th, 2010
6:07 pm

glord1

February 25th, 2010
6:15 pm

I know its BP. I know he is only 20. I know people overestimate rookies every year. All that said this kid is special and I think he is going to hit 20 drive in 85 and hit .290 as a rookie. I have watched minor leaguers for over twenty years and the only two I have seen that jumped out like him is Griffey and A Jones.

He is going to be fun to watch.

wjones

February 25th, 2010
6:24 pm

“Shane

February 25th, 2010
5:58 pm
Brad Komminsk could hit em a long way in BP too.

Thats not going to happen to this kid though I do worry about rushing him.”

You see, I keep hearing this “rushing” thing, and I don’t get that at all. My sense is that if he looks like he can play at this level, he goes north with the club. If he struggles, he goes to Gwinnett. If he goes north and slumps, he goes to Gwinnett. No one is saying anything different, not to him or anyone else. And from all appearances, he seems fine with whatever happens.

Bobby Cox

February 25th, 2010
6:25 pm

Heyward will be the only one to save Wren’s behind this coming season

Benjamin

February 25th, 2010
6:29 pm

If this guy misses — and I don’t think he will, but I’m just saying — it’ll be the Braves’ biggest disappointment since losing the ‘96 World Series.

I hope he comes up and hits .320 with 30 homers this year. (I’ll even take .280-290 with 20-25.)

ccjacket

February 25th, 2010
7:02 pm

DOB,
nice interview on xmradio this afternoon.

Metal Steel Chair

February 25th, 2010
7:04 pm

My God … a freshman!

BravesfaninWis

February 25th, 2010
7:05 pm

The kid sounds like a complete beast. I hope he makes the team and completely dismantels opposing pitchers this year. Particularly the pitchers of the Phillies, Mets, Marlins, and Nationals. In no certain order. :)

L. Grizzard's Ghost

February 25th, 2010
7:19 pm

What kind of soup?

David O'Brien

February 25th, 2010
7:22 pm

ccjacket, thanks. hope it wasn’t too noisy in the background. didn’t want to talk to them from middle of pressbox, so i went out on the veranda and there as a lot of ESPN stuff going on and wind.

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 25th, 2010
7:58 pm

When he hits and dents anything served at the Chop House I’ll be impressed.

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 25th, 2010
8:00 pm

I am pulling for him to break the annoying Gas South Sparckler fountain.

dogsbrekky

February 25th, 2010
8:09 pm

Crush it JayHey, crush it

Gary N

February 25th, 2010
8:10 pm

DOB- Some background noise but we could still hear ya loud and clear.

Poorbrave

February 25th, 2010
8:34 pm

Don’t hit DOB Harley Davidson……….

Kyle

February 25th, 2010
8:36 pm

Someone needs to put a video up of these batting practice shots

Poorbrave

February 25th, 2010
8:37 pm

DOB do something on Melkey. How he likes trade and whats his expectations etc. Thanks Buddy.

blazerdawg

February 25th, 2010
8:42 pm

39 days! THWTCubs.

Brad Komminsk

February 25th, 2010
9:10 pm

Would you like fries with that, sir?

We Run This Division!

February 25th, 2010
9:13 pm

With what should be a good pitching staff, if Heyward can bring some pop to the outfield the Braves should have a promising year. Thanks for the updates DOB!

jeffrey d

February 25th, 2010
9:21 pm

The title of this made me think it had something to do with New Jersey

gcs

February 25th, 2010
9:43 pm

I know everyone is excited about Heyward, but this year is a wash. The Braves aren’t going to do anything this year. Rushing him to the majors would be a mistake. Let him develop.

We all know what can happen when a kid is brought up too soon: Jordan Schaefer and Joey Devine just to name two…

..

Daily Heyward BP Update « Braves Blog

February 25th, 2010
9:47 pm

[...] to the daily play-by-play of Jason Heyward’s batting practice sessions, here are a few articles to give you today’s [...]

VP

February 25th, 2010
9:48 pm

DOB,

I don’t live anywhere near the southeast to come down to darkstar, so can any of the AJC photogs get some photos of the scene of the crime. I would love to get some perspective to see the might of the big man.

Chopdawg

February 25th, 2010
10:03 pm

Delbert D.

February 25th, 2010
10:03 pm

“Heyward’s bat kept sizzling against the pedestrian fastballs coaches threw in the later rounds of batting practice.”

This kid may be another Frenchy, or even a Komminsk!!! Let’s see how many windshields he breaks at Triple A first, against real pitching (Hubbard’s fastball really sux).

sugarfoot

February 25th, 2010
10:06 pm

He was not very impressive when I saw him at Gwinnett late last season.

Delbert D.

February 25th, 2010
10:15 pm

Whoa! I just took a close look at the photo blown up, and if he is 20, he must have been 16 when he was born. He looks like a Sports Center vet of several years.

chem

February 25th, 2010
11:05 pm

Reminds me of the tales of Andruw Jones. He better learn to hit a line drive to right field.

David O'Brien

February 25th, 2010
11:09 pm

Chem: That’s barking up wrong tree when it comes to Heyward. Nothing like Andruw. This kid drives the ball to all fields, has great plate discipline, as many walks as strikeouts, etc. You’re misjudging him based on us describing his pulled home runs on slow batting-practice pitches from coaches. He’s not once been criticized for being too pull-conscious.

David O'Brien

February 25th, 2010
11:16 pm

He was not very impressive when I saw him at Gwinnett late last season. — sugarfoot

Let me be clear: I don’t know if the kid’s ready. That said, he was pretty stellar last season, hence his selection as Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year.

Let’s see what he does against some major league pitching in the next month and maybe we’ll have a better idea if he’s ready. But for you to come away with that judgment based on the tiny sample size is … well, interesting.

He played a total of three games at Gwinnett and went 4-for-11 with two RBI, two walks, two strikeouts and a stolen base. It was really that unimpressive? I mean, granted it was only four singles and two walks, but he did reach base six times in three games, a .462 OBP. Just curious, what about him was unimpressive to you?

BamaHammer

February 25th, 2010
11:38 pm

well I’m all for giving him a shot at right field..He has a good spring and it electrifies the team to having a great season…

Mitchell

February 25th, 2010
11:42 pm

Man, too many reports these days from spring training. Am I to be expected to read all these articles and updates?

I should hope not.

BamaHammer

February 25th, 2010
11:47 pm

I think Chipper having a good season at the plate ,and B mac being able to focus and getting back on track at the plate is very important for this year .and if Yunnel ,Matty , Martin have good seasons again.we will win alot of games but it would be nice to have some youth with power and grit in his eyes..we can go all the way

TampaBrave86

February 26th, 2010
12:09 am

I’ve gotten to see him last spring and this spring up close and personal the kid is a monster. If he doesn’t make the club it is all about money. I for one as a huge braves fan will be pissed!!! The Kid is tearing the cover off the Ball!!! Was at Phillies camp today and I’ll tell yea he has a better make up than Ryan Howard. Just the way he attacks the ball is freaking scary man!

TampaBrave86

February 26th, 2010
12:13 am

Chem,

You don’t know what your talking about. You obivously aren’t down in Orlando. Your comment should be deleted hopefully Heyward doesn’t read this blog. He is smashing the ball everywhere.

GoJackets

February 26th, 2010
1:02 am

I saw this kid play this summer. I told my buddies that the ball just comes off his bat differently than other guys. It has a very distinct, loud pop. This guy is the real deal!

Big Man

February 26th, 2010
1:16 am

I still remember him as a wild pitching, hard throwing 9 year old who would be the biggest kid on the field. You could tell at a young age he was destined to be good with potential to be great. I wish him continued success. He’s a good kid too.

Richard Nieh

February 26th, 2010
2:38 am

He will hit 40, .350 and 120 RBIs, win both MVP and ROY. LOL.

TheAntiMe

February 26th, 2010
6:34 am

Brad Komminsk, my ass!!!

papafoxx

February 26th, 2010
7:10 am

The jury is out until he proves he can hit outside breaking balls like Andruw Jones couldn’t.

Brent

February 26th, 2010
8:26 am

Get Em’ Jason!! can’t wait to check him out this season.

McCann Fan

February 26th, 2010
8:29 am

Video of BP please! Starting right field on Opening Day please!

Canedawg

February 26th, 2010
8:41 am

Keep him away from Halle Berry and we will be fine…

Brian

February 26th, 2010
9:11 am

Been watching him bomb since we wen’t to Henry County! Stood next to a Braves scout at the Ola vs. Henry County game his senior year(my junior), and after he hit a towering shot, the scout said on the phone “this kid’s the real deal. He’s ours.”

[...] Bobby Cox says the sound of the ball hitting the bat of Jason Heyward makes the same sound as did balls coming off [...]

Tech Sucks

February 26th, 2010
9:37 am

When is the last time we have been this excited about a prospect? Chipper Jones? Andruw Jones?

RomeDawg

February 26th, 2010
9:48 am

OMG! Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron! Poor kids has NO place to go but down. To hit the expectations the media have on him anything less than 25 homers, 100 RBI’s, .300 avg and rookie of the year will be disappointing. Bobby Cox should no better than to hype a youngster that has never seen live major league pitching. In saying that, I think he will be fine but remember he’s only 20. He could be one of the best, in 8 to 10 years.

I must be the Crazy One

February 26th, 2010
10:15 am

I gotta say i’m starting to become a bit concerned with all the articles blowing sunshine up this kid’s tailpipe. I’m from Rome, i watched him play there many a time, and I can attest to his power, his plate discipline, and his cannon of an arm in Right Field. Every bit as good an arm as Frenchy’s, in my humble opinion, though that hasn’t really been talked about yet (i stress yet, believe me it’s coming). He’s undoubtedly the real deal. But let’s everyone keep a clear head on this kid. Right now i’m thinking if the guy comes up and gets 500 AB’s and goes .275/17/70 everyone’s gonna say he fell short. Give the kid some breathing room for crying out loud. Keep some perspective. Now, honestly, do i think he’ll beat those numbers? Yea, honestly, if he gets 500 ABs I do. I think he’ll beat those numbers, and not necessarily by a modest margin. But If we got those numbers i’d be satisfied, especially knowing that he’ll be around for a long time with the expectations of improvement. Call me crazy, i’m just trying to remember what it was like being 20, and trying to imagine what it must be like being 20 and taking BP next to Chipper Jones for crying out loud.

VP

February 26th, 2010
11:32 am

Thank You ChopDawg for that link to the dark star stadium. It gives me a nice frame of reference to understand what DOB is talking about.

RHMWAFFIPW: GOD BLESS AMERICA « TYSOTB

February 26th, 2010
1:54 pm

[...] the assistant GM’s car.  This led to the Braves having to go to the extraordinary measure of installing nets over the parking lot that was supposedly too far away for a human to hit a baseball too.   Note that the Braves have [...]

piesc

February 26th, 2010
2:02 pm

yeah, yeah, yeah

chem

February 26th, 2010
2:08 pm

Yes, TampaBrave, like 99% of Atlanta baseball fans, I’m not down in Orlando scouting minor league prospects. I never said he was short on talent, so I don’t really understand your point. In the 90’s, Andruw Jones was hailed as the next Willie Mays of Griffey Jr. Andruw also had impressive BP power against 60 mph fastballs and even more impressive minor league numbers than Heyward. Unfortunately, his rapid ascent to the majors curtailed any chance at learning to be a professional hitter. Honestly, I hope Heyward reads my comments and continues to work hard, study pitchers, and fine tune his swing. There have been how many articles on his batting practice homeruns? It’s all meaningless hype that can’t possibly help him succeed.

meat

February 26th, 2010
2:55 pm

I don’t understand why they built a parking lot 440 feet away from home plate. How is heyward the first to damage cars out there? I would think Chipper, LaRoche, and Thorman could have sent bp balls out there frequently over the years.

Brad Komminsk

February 26th, 2010
4:50 pm

remember me? i couldn’t miss either

RomeDawg

February 27th, 2010
12:47 am

I must be the Crazy one,

I think being from Rome and seeing all the “can’t miss” prospects miss makes us feel a little more cautious and guarded when giving the kind of praising this kid is getting.

[...] of expectations gone wild.  Are we expecting too much too soon? I don’t know. But after three separate AJC articles about the sound his bat makes during during batting practice in 72 hours, [...]

38YearBravesFan

February 28th, 2010
7:52 am

All the blogs and the articles have also been saying he has a good head on his shoulders, in addition to the bat swing. People, his parents brought him up right. Frenchy he ain’t. I can wait to see him against big league pitching (cause I have to) but I’d love to see him in RF for the start of the season.

Andruw he ain’t. Thankfully. As also been stated here before, you gotta remember what some of the best did in their rookie season in the bigs. They weren’t all that hot. If he plays good defense and has a respectable BA for this season, I would be happy. I’m rooting for him.

GO BRAVES!!

[...] training with home run balls. It actually forced the Braves’ hand and made them make plan to install a net in front of the parking lot. Yet through all of this, there was still some doubt that Heyward would [...]

[...] machine that is Jason Heyward has re-calibrated his weapons.  No longer content with bashing cars with his homers, Heyward has moved on to targeting children.  The child fared better than the cars, [...]

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