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.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”