Craig’s love for Braves prospect Jason Heyward is so strong that he’s forcing himself not to write something about him every hour of every day, so I’m trying to pick up the slack. He’s arguably the best prospect in baseball, after all. Heyward, that is. Calcaterra is slightly lower in most rankings.
Anyway, the latest Heyward hype comes from future teammates Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, who joined the list of people thinking that the 20-year-old outfielder is probably just about ready for the majors despite playing only 50 games above Single-A.
First, here’s Jones:
I saw Andruw [Jones] play a little bit in the minor leagues when he was a 19-year-old kid. He looked like Devon White playing with a bunch of minor leaguers. This Heyward kid looks like Fred McGriff with 20 more pounds on him out in right field. He is built. He is put together. And he means to do some damage when he walks to that plate.
Now here’s McCann:
He looks like a major-league ballplayer already. And his talent is something special. I think he’s ready. I’ve never seen a kid this good. He possesses some things I’ve never seen in someone who is 19 or 20 years old. He’s hitting the ball out 400 feet to left center. If he makes our team, he’s got a chance to be one of our best players. That’s the kind of talent he has.
And finally, here’s Calcaterra:
He’s so dreamy.
OK, so that last one is more like a glimpse into someone’s head rather than an actual quote. Close enough.
Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.
No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.
Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.
Set some time aside to read this today.
This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.
De La Rosa has had elbow issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.
I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.
He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.