Now that Jason Heyward has officially made the Braves it’s time to start thinking about what kind of rookie season he’s capable of putting together at age 20.
Here are his projections from a few prominent sources:
AVG OBP SLG OPS
Baseball Prospectus .274 .345 .461 .806
Rotoworld Draft Guide .267 .343 .440 .783
Baseball Think Factory .275 .341 .429 .770
Combining those projections has Heyward hitting .272 with a .343 on-base percentage and .443 slugging percentage, which is good for a .786 OPS that would put him about five percent above average overall. While those numbers may not match the incredible hype and expectations, throughout the entire history of baseball a grand total of just 29 players have qualified for the batting title with an above-average OPS as 20-year-olds.
The only 20-year-olds with an above-average OPS in the past 30 years are Roberto Alomar in 1988, Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990, Alex Rodriguez in 1996, and Adrian Beltre in 1999. That’s two sure-fire Hall of Famers, one likely Hall of Famer, and a former MVP runner-up with 250 homers through age 30. And no 20-year-old has done it since 1999. In other words, if Heyward has a .786 OPS this season Braves fans should be thrilled.
In fact, Heyward merely staying in the majors and playing regularly would put him in strong company, as only 19 outfielders have ever logged 500 plate appearances at age 20. Here’s the list: Griffey, Ty Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Mel Ott, Cesar Cedeno, Tony Conigliaro, Vada Pinson, Rick Manning, Buddy Bell, Claudell Washington, Sherry Magee.
Put it this way: Throw those names in a hat and draw one at random. You’ll likely end up with a Hall of Famer.
The Diamondbacks have signed free agent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a minor league deal, per a team announcement on Sunday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com adds that De La Rosa stands to make $2.25 million if he secures a spot on the major league roster, with up to $600,000 in incentives if he pitches out of the bullpen and up to $1 million in incentives if he pitches out of the starting rotation.
The 35-year-old is expected to compete for a bullpen role after spending the better part of a decade in the Rockies’ rotation. He capped a nine-year run with Colorado in 2016, finishing the year with a 5.51 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 over 134 innings. Despite his struggles out of the rotation, he found limited success in a three-game stint in the bullpen, striking out 10 of 26 batters and holding the opposition to just three hits and one earned run in eight innings.
The veteran lefty is set to join a bullpen comprised of right-handers Randall Delgado, Jake Barrett and Fernando Rodney, along with a number of unproven candidates on similar minor league contracts. His age and command issues may be off-putting, but the promise he showed as a reliever should give the Diamondbacks some upside as they attempt to redeem a league-worst bullpen in 2017.
Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss up to three weeks with a right calf strain, reports John Lott. Donaldson reportedly felt some discomfort in his calf during sprinting drills on Friday and was diagnosed with what looked like a mild strain after undergoing an MRI on Saturday. According to Lott, the 31-year-old is on crutches for the next few days and will likely miss 2-3 weeks of spring training.
Donaldson had a similar scare at the start of the 2016 season, when he limped out of the batter’s box during the Blue Jays’ first regular season road trip with a right calf strain. He returned to DH two days later, however, and was back on the field in less than a week’s time. Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins told MLB.com’s Corey Long that the two calf injuries are unrelated, and expects that Donaldson will recover in similar fashion this spring — well before Opening Day comes around.