Jason Heyward

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Jason Heyward
Jason Heyward.jpg
Heyward at spring training in February, 2011
St. Louis Cardinals – No. 22
Right fielder
Born: (1989-08-09) August 9, 1989 (age 25)
Ridgewood, New Jersey
Bats: Left Throws: Left
MLB debut
April 5, 2010 for the Atlanta Braves
Career statistics
(through 2014 season)
Batting average .262
Hits 644
Home runs 84
Runs batted in 292
Stolen bases 63
Career highlights and awards

Jason Adenolith Heyward[1] (born August 9, 1989), nicknamed J-Hey and J-Hey-Kid, is an American professional baseball right fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Atlanta Braves selected him in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft from Henry County High School in Georgia and he began his minor league career at age 17. He made his MLB debut four years later and was traded to the Cardinals after the 2014 season. He has won multiple awards for his vast defensive skills. Heyward throws and bats left-handed and has worn uniform #22 throughout his major league career in honor of a high school friend and teammate who died in a traffic collision.

A three-time minor league All-Star game selection, Heyward played 2007–09 in the Atlanta organization. Baseball America (BA) regarded him as the Braves' top prospect in 2007,[2] ranking him as the organization's best power hitter and having the best strike zone discipline. In 2009, he won a Minor League Player of the Year Award from both BA and USA Today after batting .323 with 17 home runs (HR) and 63 runs batted in (RBI) in three levels. A consensus number-one MLB prospect entering the 2010 season, BA, Keith Law of ESPN.com and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com each listed Heyward as baseball's top prospect.[3]

Making his MLB debut for Atlanta in 2010, he was named to the National League (NL) All-Star team that year and finished second for the NL Rookie of the Year Award. However, BA named him their MLB Rookie of the Year. Heyward missed significant playing time in 2011 and 2013 due to injuries. With a breakout season in 2012, he hit 27 HR with 82 RBI and 21 stolen bases while finishing in the NL top ten in on-base percentage (.393), runs scored (93), and bases on balls (91). Also recognized for his defensive work, he won the NL Gold Glove Award for right fielders in 2012 and 2014, and Wilson's MLB Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.

Early life and amateur career[edit]

The son of Dartmouth graduates,[1] Heyward was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The Heywards moved to Georgia soon after he was born.[4] Heyward attended Henry County High School. According SB Nation's Jon Bois in 2010, his middle name, Adenolith, is unique as a Google Search rendered no results.[1]

One of Heyward's close friends and teammates from high school, Andrew Wilmot, died in a traffic collision while attending college. Wilmot was a catcher who wore the uniform number 22, the number Heyward would later wear in his major league career to honor him. Wilmot's mother, Tammie Ruston, was Heyward's high school literature teacher in his senior year.[5]

The 14th overall selection by the Atlanta Braves in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft following high school, Heyward signed a deal worth $1.7 million – $170,000 more than MLB's slot recommendation of $1.53 million on the following August 12. It was the same as the 2006 14th-slot amount that the Toronto Blue Jays gave Travis Snider.[6][7]

Professional career[edit]

Minor Leagues (2007–09)[edit]

At 17, Heyward started his professional career in the minor leagues for the Braves, first with the GCL Braves and then with the Danville Braves of the Appalachian League, hitting a combined .302 batting average with one home run (HR) and six runs batted in (RBI) in 12 games. In 2008 he hit a combined .316 with 11 home runs (HR) and 52 RBI in 127 games for Class-A Rome and Advanced-A Myrtle Beach, including 91 runs, 15 stolen bases, and a .854 OPS.

Starting 2009 at Myrtle Beach, Heyward gaining successive promotions to Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. In 99 games, he batted .323 with 17 HR and 10 steals, including high numbers in OBP (.408), SLG (.555), and OPS (.963), while scoring 69 runs and driving in 63 RBI.[8] He also displayed consistent hitting ability against both right- (RHP) and left-handed pitchers (LHP). In 2009, Heyward hit .339 in 112 AB against LHP and .316 against RHP. In his minor league career through 2009, he had batted .335 against lefties and righties at .313. Against RHP, he hit 23 out of 29 HR.[9]

That September, both Baseball America (BA) and USA Today named him their Minor League Player of the Year.[8] A consensus number-one MLB prospect entering the 2010 season, BA, Keith Law of ESPN.com and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com each listed Heyward as baseball's top prospect.[3] During his first three years in the minor leagues, BA also consistently ranked parts of Heyward's skill sets as the best among Braves minor leaguers, including Best Strike Zone Discipline (three times), Best Hitter for Average (twice), Best Hitter for Power (once), Best Defensive Outfielder (OF, once), and Best OF Arm (once).[10] The Braves added Heyward to their 40-man roster before the 2010 season. He asked for, and was given, uniform #22 to honor high school friend Wilmot.[5]

Atlanta Braves (2010–14)[edit]

Heyward with Atlanta, 2014


The Braves invited Heyward to Spring Training the following March. He hit two notable batting practice home runs. One damaged a Coca-Cola truck in the parking lot, and another broke the sunroof of Atlanta Braves' assistant GM Bruce Manno's car in the same lot. On March 25, the Braves named Heyward their starting right fielder.

Heyward's father, Eugene Heyward, purchased 60 tickets in advance of his son's MLB debut on April 5 against the Chicago Cubs. Wearing a #22 jersey, Ruston was also in attendance for the game.[11] During his first Major League plate appearance – and first swing at an MLB pitch – Heyward hit a three-run home run, estimated at 471 feet (144 m), off starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano.[12] Heyward became the fifth player in Braves history to hit a home run in his first Major League at bat, and the eleventh in franchise history to do so in his MLB debut, on the heels of Jordan Schafer, who did it the previous year.[11]

Heyward was named the National League (NL) Rookie of the Month in April[13] and May.[14] He was also selected as a starter for the NL in the 2010 All-Star Game, but did not play due to an injury to his right thumb.[15] After stealing home in a double steal against the Washington Nationals in the first inning on July 28, he became the first Brave to do so since Rafael Furcal, who did it more than ten years earlier.[16] In an August 22 game against the Cubs, Heyward had his first career multi-home run game and set a career high in hits and runs scored with four each. He made his post-season debut with the Braves on October 7, 2010 against the San Francisco Giants.

Heyward finished his rookie season with a .277 batting average, a .393 on-base percentage, and 18 home runs.[17] He was named Baseball America's MLB Rookie of the Year and as an outfielder to the magazine's 2010 All-Rookie Team.[18] He was also named an outfielder on the 2010 Topps' Major League Rookie All-Star Team.[19] Heyward finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Giants catcher Buster Posey.[20]


Heyward again hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season on March 31, 2011 off Nationals pitcher Liván Hernández to become the second player to homer in his first major league at-bat on opening day, and do the same the following year, after Kazuo Matsui did so 2004–05.[21] During a game against the Chicago Cubs on August 23, 2011, Heyward hit his first career grand slam .[22] He finished 2011 with a .227 average, 14 homers, and 42 RBI in 128 games.


In 2012, Heyward won a Fielding Bible Award as the best fielding right fielder in MLB, and also captured the 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award.[23] In 158 games, Heyward batted .269 with 27 home runs and 82 RBIs.


On January 18, 2013, the Braves avoided arbitration with Heyward in his first time eligible, agreeing on a one-year, $3.65 million deal. He was counted as a component in the outfield including brothers Justin and B. J. Upton.[24] On April 22, he underwent an appendectomy and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. He returned on May 17 going 2-for-4 in an 8–5 win against the Dodgers. New York Mets pitcher Jon Niese hit Heyward in the face with a pitch on August 21, breaking his jaw. He had surgery and returned on September 20, striking out and walking, in a 9–5 win against the Chicago Cubs.[25] After two stints on the DL, Heyward appeared in 104 games, batting .254 with 14 HR, 22 2B, 38 RBI, 67 runs scored and two stolen bases.


The Braves bought out Heyward's last arbitration-eligible years on February 4, 2014, agreeing on a two-year, $13.3 million contract.[26] Playing as the Braves' primary leadoff hitter, he finished the season with a .271 batting average, .351 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, 58 RBI and 20 stolen bases.[27]

After the season, Heyward was recognized for his defensive work. Baseball-Reference.com rated his overall defensive Wins Above Replacement at 2.8, the fourth-highest total in the National League.[17] He led all MLB players with 32 total Defensive Runs Saved. He won his second Rawlings NL Gold Glove Award in right field. Further, Wilson Sporting Goods named him their MLB Defensive Player of the Year in right field as well as their overall MLB Defensive Player of the Year. [28]

St. Louis Cardinals (2014)[edit]

On November 17, 2014, the Braves traded Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals along with pitcher Jordan Walden for pitchers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins.[29] Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who wore #22 and had also done so for most of his playing career, volunteered his number to Heyward. Matheny, like Heyward's friend, Wilmot, was a former catcher. Further, the Cardinals traded for Heyward to replace their former right fielder and top prospect, Oscar Taveras, who, the previous month, like Wilmot, died in a car accident.[5]


Major Leagues
Minor Leagues

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Bois, Jon (April 9, 2010). "Jason Heyward's middle name is a first for humankind". SB Nation. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Top 10 Prospects: Atlanta Braves". Baseball America. November 5, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Law, Keith (January 28, 2010). "Ranking the top prospects". ESPN.com. 
  4. ^ "Jason Heyward – Yahoo Sports". 
  5. ^ a b c Langosh, Jenifer (November 25, 2014). "Matheny offers to give No. 22 to Heyward". MLB.com. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Braves sign No. 1 pick Heyward". MLB.com. August 12, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Braves sign Heyward". Baseball America. August 13, 2007. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Jason Heyward honored by USA Today & Baseball America". OurSports Central. September 11, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  9. ^ "2009 Top 50 prospects, rank 3: Jason Heyward". MLB.com. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Jason Heyward, of". Baseball America. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Bowman, Mark (April 5, 2010). "Heyward adds to legend in first at-bat". braves.mlb.com. 
  12. ^ "ESPN Home Run Tracker :: Player and Field Detail". Hittrackeronline.com. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Gonzalez, Alden. "Heyward, Jackson named April's top rookies". MLB.com. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Stephens, Bailey. "Heyward, Boesch named top May rookies". Atlanta.braves.mlb.com. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Jackson, Tony (July 12, 2010). "Dodgers' Kuo added to All-Star Game". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Heyward swipes home on double steal". MLB.com. July 28, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Jason Heyward statistics and history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  18. ^ a b Eddy, Matt (October 19, 2010). "Future Big League Stars Highlight All-Rookie Team". Baseball America. Retrieved October 21, 2010. 
  19. ^ Thesier, Kelly (November 29, 2010). "Valencia awarded with rookie honor". MLB.com. Retrieved December 11, 2010. 
  20. ^ Haft, Chris (November 15, 2010). "Posey catches NL Rookie of the Year honors". MLB.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010. 
  21. ^ "The Hall of Very Good™: Jason Heyward Loves Opening Day!". Hallofverygood.com. March 31, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  22. ^ O'Brien, David (2011-08-24). "Heyward slam fuels Braves' win against Cubs". ajc.com. Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  23. ^ "The 2012 Awards". ACTA Sports. October 25, 2012. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. 
  24. ^ Bowman, Mark (January 18, 2013). "Heyward, four other Braves avoid arbitration". MLB.com. 
  25. ^ Rogers, Carroll. "Jason Heyward has surgery on jaw". The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Cox Media Group. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Jason Heyward, Braves reach deal". ESPN.com. February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014. 
  27. ^ Staff reports (November 17, 2014). "Braves trade Jason Heyward, Jordan Walden for Cardinals' Shelby Miller". The Albany Herald. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  28. ^ O'Brien, David (November 5, 2014). "Heyward chosen best defensive player by Wilson". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  29. ^ Bowman, Mark (November 17, 2014). "Cards get Heyward from Braves in four-player swap". MLB.com. 
  30. ^ a b "Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
JA Happ
Sporting News NL Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Craig Kimbrel