Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/4/12

In 2010, Jason Heyward turned heads with a very solid season as a 20-year-old rookie. His PSR was even in the top 100, so many thought we were looking at the next big thing in fantasy baseball. Well, a combination of injuries and regression hurt his 2011 value, and he ended up ranking a very poor 376th. The good news is that Heyward is still only 21 years old and has plenty of time to develop into a big-time, MLB hitter. The bad news? He has battled injuries for two seasons now and we can’t help but draw cross-sport comparisons with Greg Oden. Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Best case scenario: Justin Upton (ARI)
Similar players: Michael Cuddyer (COL), Nick Swisher (NYY), Corey Hart (MIL)
Worst case scenario: Shoulder injury comes back

Strengths

Plate discipline, power, age. His plate discipline took a step backwards last season, but he still has an above average career O-Swing% (26.1%) and OBP (.362), especially for someone his age. Also, his raw power is drool-inducing when you consider that he has 32 home runs in 916 at-bats (28.63 AB/HR) with a career 54.6 ground ball percentage.

Weaknesses

Ground balls, injuries. If Heyward can figure out how to hit more fly balls (career 29.7%) his home run totals would sky rocket. Unfortunately there have been no signs of that getting better so it’s just blind faith that he will keep improving as a hitter. It also doesn’t help that he spent almost the entire 2011 season nursing a shoulder injury.

ADP Report (108.3)

We at Baseball Professor are definitely buying into the potential that Heyward has, and I think he’s worth a gamble as early as the seventh round. I’ll admit that expectations for 2012 should be tempered, but in keeper leagues he shouldn’t be lasting past the fifth round because the potential is there for him to be a top-10 outfielder for the next 10 years.

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