MLB Quick Pitches: Let The Jason Heyward Era Begin!

Pat DeCola@Pat_DeColaCorrespondent IMarch 3, 2010


What I’m Reading

• The Braves’ 20-year old monster prospect Jason Heyward is already turning heads in camp . The feeling around Kissimmee is that he’ll continue this trend all the way into the regular season. The major league regular season.

• The Brewers appear likely to re-sign staff ace Yovani Gallardo soon , but until then don’t expect the righty to lose sleep over it.

• Justin Upton’s new long term deal is being finalized as we speak . What does this mean for him? But more importantly—what does this mean for Mark Reynolds?

• Lance Berkman is having some heavy knee issues right now, just days into spring training.

• Rocco Baldelli, while not “retired”, has returned to the rays as a special assistant but still intends to keep playing at some point after he gets over a shoulder injury. This has the makings of an inspirational Disney movie written all over it.

What I Think About It

Jason Heyward

• Alright, it was only one game.

But it was one game in which J-Hey played 4.5 innings, reached base three times and stole a base.

For a team lacking an identity since those three Hall of Famers disbanded, kicking off a new decade with some enthusiasm about a young new face patrolling the outfield might be just what the doctor ordered for Atlanta.

“Everybody knows he belongs,” catcher Brian McCann said according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution of Heyward, Baseball American’s 2009 minor league Player of the Year. “It’s just a matter of getting used to the big-league pitching, how quick the adjustments are made.

“But he’s the best 20-year-old I’ve ever seen.”

There is a tremendous amount of pressure on the shoulders of young Jason, but there has been no indication thus far that he cannot live up to his potential.

In a few weeks when April is around the corner and Spring Training is subsiding, we may be singing a different tune. But right now all signs point to the J-Hey era beginning in Atlanta as soon as the season rolls around.

Yovani Gallardo

• The deadline for renewal is March 11, but the Brewers tend to get these sorts of things done before they start any Cactus League games. This means that in all likelihood, Milwaukee will have him under a new contract by Thursday.

Right now, Yovani is the clear cut leading candidate to start Opening Day at home against Colorado.

His 13-12 record last year is deceiving, as he finished the season with a respectable 3.73 ERA, 204 K’s (good for fifth in the NL) and a stunning .219 BAA (good for third in the NL).

Last year when he was the last to re-sign, the Brewers settled on paying him a reported $414,000. Peanuts.

After posting solid numbers last year, he’ll be in the running for a heftier contract, but it is still expected to just be a one year deal covering 2010.

No wonder the 24-year old isn’t sweating it.


• He has yet to play a full season, but the 22-year old Upton has shown significant improvement every year and has all the makings of a star ready to break out.

Naturally, he’s about to be rewarded for his play with a long-term deal for reportedly 6-years and $51.25 million, a more than reasonable contract for the Diamondbacks if he does indeed become a perennial All-Star over the course of the deal.

But what about their record-setting corner infielder Mark Reynolds?

Sure, the records he’s setting are his own strikeout totals, but the man did put 44 over the wall last season.

The D’Backs are currently in negotiations with Reynolds, but, according to Ken Rosenthal of, he shouldn’t be expecting an MLB&id=4649&line=282494&spln=1">Upton-like deal just yet . Arizona might prefer to stay year-to-year with him right now.

Which means  that he’ll probably make close to the league-minimum again this season.

Lance Berkman

• It’s going to be a long season for the Astros if Berkman’s injury issues are already rearing their ugly heads.

Yes, it’s just spring training and he could realistically sit out as much as he needs to this month as long as he’s ready for Opening Day. That’s the kind of luxury that comes along with being a respected veteran. Just ask Brett Favre.

I’m no doctor, but I do know that a simple base running drill shouldn’t cause that much swelling in a person’s knee even if they spent the winter sitting on the couch re-watching the entire catalog of “The Office”.

I know, because that’s literally how I spent December through February.

Houston needs a big rebound year from Berk after injuries limited him to a mediocre 25/80/.274 campaign last year.

Knee injuries can get out of hand fast, so it’s a good thing this was caught quickly enough to take immediate action and rest him.

Rocco Baldelli

• Good for Rocco.

He showed so much promise as a 21-year old Tampa Bay Devil Ray back in 2003, but myriad injuries and a fatigue-related illness later diagnosed as a form of channelopathy hindered the Rhode Island native from reaching his full potential.

After showing signs of life in a reduced role with Boston last season, it’s clear that the talent is still there to some degree.

His special assistant role with the Rays is expected to be just that and most likely won’t develop into a roster position, but I have a funny feeling that the situation is setting up perfectly for Rocco to make a late-season comeback and lead the team during the stretch run.

"We're not doing this with that in mind," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, "but anything's possible."

Sure is.


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