Heyward poised to make impact

Published 10:51 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2010

High school baseball has been underway since the beginning of February. Recreation baseball got going just a few short weeks ago, but now the baseball season has really gotten underway.

Major League Baseball debuted this past weekend, and I for one am pretty excited.

The first day was a great day of action, as we saw some familiar faces in new places, as well as some pretty impressive debuts from young players.

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Obviously, the most notable of those rookies is new Atlanta Brave Jason Heyward.

Heyward, at just 20 years old, is already one of the most hyped prospects in baseball history.

He certainly had an impressive debut at the major league level, as he homered in his first at-bat, and wound up driving in four runs.

But his home run wasn’t just any home run.

It was an absolute shot, the kind that you know is headed out of the ballpark as soon as it leaves the bat.

It was the kind of home run that inspired me to leap off of my couch with both hands thrust into the air.

And I never get excited about baseball.

But, that’s just the thing. This kid has already generated the type of excitement that isn’t often seen around baseball in Atlanta.

The Braves set an attendance record for a day game Monday against the Cubs, and the place nearly exploded when Heyward took the third pitch of his first major league at-bat over the fence in right-center field.

Atlanta, as many people have said before, is a city of transplants.

When the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs or any other team with a devoted following come to town, the cheers for the visitors often drown out the Braves fans in attendance.

But, this year’s Opening Day had a very different feel to it. Yes, this Heyward kid has an entire city excited about baseball again.

Well, that, and the idea of sending one of the greatest managers in baseball history, Bobby Cox out on top with a World Series ring.

Judging by Monday’s offensive outburst, the Braves have a real shot at not only making the playoffs, but also maybe even making some noise once they get there.

Can he help them overtake the Phillies, who all of a sudden, look almost unbeatable with the addition of Roy Halladay?

No one really knows at the moment.

That home run could be a sign of all his natural talent, much like it was with Jordan Schafer a year ago.

Much like Schafer, though, Heyward might show that he doesn’t have the maturity and mental toughness necessary to be a star at a young age.

Somehow, though, I doubt it.

Nick Duke is a sports writer for The Messenger, and he can be reached at nick.duke@Troymessenger.com or on Twitter at Messenger_Nick.