The Braves are coming to town. Time to get your "Whatsa matta with Laaa-rrry" on. It's also time to get an eyeful of Braves' 20-year-old phenom Jason Heyward, who with his first major-league swing Monday cranked a three-run homer off Carlos Zambrano, prompting Baseball America to schedule his Hall of Fame induction for June.
BA had tongue planted in cheek, of course, but Heyward's march on Atlanta, accompanied by the soundtrack of car windshields smashing, can't help but conjure thoughts of another Braves' whippersnapper whose loud home runs caught everyone's attention.
A decade later, Andruw Jones has become the punch line to a lot of LOLs, mostly directed toward the Dodgers. For that alone Andruw deserves a standing ovation. If Andruw can become fat, overpaid and very very bad, let's not write Heyward's acceptance speech yet. But it seems certain he'll be a productive player right out of the gate. The worst projection for him this year is CHONE at .258 / .324 / .416, which probably shouldn't cut it for a big-league right fielder, but we should note other projections are friendlier to Heyward, so in a sense the CHONE numbers are a worst-case injury-free scenario.
Whatever Heyward ends up doing this year, we're certain to hear a lot of comparisons to his other 2007 draft-mates. Let me refresh your memory. Yes, indeed, the Giants could have had Heyward instead of the MadBum. Over at the McChronic, one prospect-lovin' regular famously wrote before the '07 draft that he'd throw himself down the stairs if the Giants took Bumgarner. Thumpity-thumpity-thumpity-thump. The commenter, Dr. B, hasn't been heard from since, but he's gotten a lot of razz the past couple years as MadBum dazzled his way through the minors.
Bumgarner's setback -- if indeed his diminished velocity and poor spring training can be considered so -- might rekindle old regrets. It could also re-open the debate about the Giants' ability to scout and draft position players. Since 2007, they've done better. Buster Posey's slot in '08 could've produced a lemon, but so far so good, and a few other picks that year (Crawford, Kieschnick, Gillaspie) brought interesting talent, if not rocket-to-the-top types. Last year's draft didn't have much first-round positional talent. But the Giants nabbed one of the most intriguing power bats, high schooler Tommy Joseph, in the second round.
All this to say, the Giants won't quell the complaints about their miserable track record in developing competent hitters until Posey becomes an All-Star. And even that might not satisfy. Meanwhile, if MadBum's AAA debut tomorrow night is anything less than a two-hit shutout, and Heyward knocks a few balls against and over the walls at Mays Field this weekend, listen closely for the sound....thumpity-thumpity-thump.