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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

J-Hey delivers amid immense expectations


New Braves outfielder Jason Heyward is just like any other 20-year-old kid.

There's just one exception: EVERYTHING.

A 6'4" 220-pound kid, Heyward stands out from the crowd based on his physical stature alone – not to mention the fact that he's one helluva a baseball player.

Deemed Major League Baseball's top prospect in late January, the Braves right fielder quickly became the wet dream of unemployed 30-somethings across the state. Thousands of these Braves groupies emerged from their parents' basement yesterday to see for themselves what they'd been dreaming and hearing about for months.

Although some athletes might crumble under the pressure of stepping into the batters box for the first time with 53,081 sets of eyes focused directly on them, the kid who can't even legally buy a beer lived up to all the hype.

On a 2-0 pitch from Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, Heyward set off an eruption that hasn't been heard inside Turner Field--or any other Atlanta sports venue for that matter – in decades.

Heyward--channeling his inner-Babe Ruth--belted a line drive home run into the Braves bullpen and the resulting orgasmic energy that flowed throughout the stands was almost biblical (I hope using the words "orgasmic" and "biblical" in the same sentence doesn't ruffle anyone's feathers).

Expectations such as the ones that accompany Heyward usually breed disappointment--(cough) Jeff Francouer--but what happens when these great expectations are met--nay, exceeded?

Heyward isn't the first Braves rookie outfield prospect to hit a home run in his first at-bat. In fact, he's not even the first Brave to do so in the last 364 days.

Just last season, a then 22-year-old Jordan Schafer hit his first career home run in his Major League debut.

Schafer would then go on to bat just .204 while striking out 63 times in his next 166 at-bats before being sent down to Triple-A affiliate Gwinnett in June of 2009. Every middle-aged jersey wearer and Chipper Jones' leg-humper is simply praying that Heyward does not succumb to a similar fate.

Whether or not Jason Heyward lives up to his billing as "The Next Great Ballplayer" is irrelevant at this point--let's just bask in his premature greatness, shall we?

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