Heyward vs. Hosmer: Battle of the Prospects- Friday Faceoff
MLB reports: Another week, another rescheduled Friday Faceoff. Originally scheduled to go head-to-head were Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves and Mike Stanton of the Florida Marlins in the battle of young and up-and-coming National League outfielders. But with the burst of MLB reports favorite Eric Hosmer of the Kansas City Royals on the MLB scene a week ago, we couldn’t resist switching up the story. With the e-mailbag being flooded for Hosmer requests and the promise I made last week for a Heyward feature, MLB reports is proud to present in the Friday Faceoff: Heyward vs. Hosmer.
Both Hosmer and Heyward are still pups at the tender age of 21-years-old. It’s hard to believe that Heyward was an all-star and finished second in the NL ROY balloting last year at 20. Incredible. Born only 2 months apart, Heyward was the 14th overall selection in the 2007 draft and Hosmer- the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft tie in this category. In terms of experience, Heyward has a year’s worth of experience in the majors over Hosmer, but then he was drafted a year earlier. A draw in round 1.
Looking at Jason Heyward’s numbers from a year ago, I am completely blown away. By hitting 18 home runs last year with a .456 SLG, Heyward was one of the most consistent Braves hitters last year. This year, Heyward already has 7 home runs, although his SLG is down to .433. The trouble with measuring Heyward so far this year is that he has been bothered by a sore shoulder early on, missed some games, taken his cortisone shots and may only fully return by early next week. While he is ready to pinch run and may pinch hit soon, Heyward’s health is a question mark at this point. Comparatively, Hosmer had 3 home runs in his first 26 games at AAA this year and 2 home runs in his first 6 games since being called up. While Hosmer has flashed power in the minors, including 20 last year between A+ and AA last year, Heyward has shown the steady power in the majors already. Heyward for me is already at the 30+ home run capabilities while Hosmer is more of a 15+ home run hitter for me at this stage of his career. Based on raw power, Heyward wins this round.
Patience and Batting Eye
Good luck in finding two better hitters with strong eyes at the plate compared to Heyward and Hosmer. Heyward finished with 91 walks last year, unheard of for a 20-year-old hitter in the majors. The strikeouts though did pile, up as Heyward whiffed 128 times in 2010. This year Heyward has a 18/32 BB/K ratio, good for a young player but not quite the level we expect from our budding superstars. Part to blame is his shoulder woes and the rest is the developing patience at the plate. Hosmer on the other hand, is slowly becoming the new MLB king of patience. In 2010 in the minors, Hosmer had a 59/66 BB/K ratio, almost 1-1. In his call-up this year, Hosmer sits at 5/5 BB/K ratio. With high walks and low strikeouts, round 3 goes to Eric Hosmer. Heyward ranks high in this category, just not Hosmer good.
This category, as with the others, is based on a small sample size and considers results to-date and expected performance. Some categories are easier to predict than others. This one appears very apparent to me. While I see Heyward having more future long balls, I can see Hosmer finishing with a higher batting average. Heyward had close to a .400 OBP last year and his .270-.280 average potential with 100 walks per year are fantastic numbers. But Hosmer has the .300+ average potential and will likely exceed a .400 OBP year-in and year-out. Last year in the minors, Hosmer had .338 AVG and .408 OBP. In AAA this year, Hosmer was hitting .439 with a .525 OBP and is already hitting .333 in the majors with a .444 OBP. The result is another victory for Hosmer.
A tricky category to utilize in comparing the two sluggers, who are known more for their bats than their speed. Heyward had 11 stolen bases last year, although he was caught 6 times. So far this year Heyward has only stolen 2 bases. Hosmer himself is not much a burner, although he did steal 11 bases last year while only being caught once in high A ball. On the season, Hosmer has stolen 3 bases in AAA and 1 steal in the majors, while not getting caught at either level. My impression overall is that Heyward will steal more bases as he will take more opportunities, while Hosmer will take fewer chances but have a higher success ratio. Pick your poison, I am calling this one a draw.
A great matchup this week of two future MVPs and part of baseball’s changing of the guard as the kids begin to take over. I am very excited about the prospects for both Heyward and Hosmer, as both are complete packages and truly the real deal in my estimation. It is always my goal not to go too far in projecting prospects as too many factors can take over, including : injuries, faded confidence, legal troubles, bad teams, bad lineups…you name it, one factor can arise and sideline a bright star in a hurry. Watching both Heyward and Hosmer, I have the impression that both are intelligent young men with good heads on their shoulders. Both play with enthusiasm and heart, two strong qualities I look for future in players. Going head-to-head, both are very young, with Heyward having a year experience on Hosmer. Both are showing good power, although Heyward has greater power. Hosmer though won out on batting average and batting-eye, displaying in his career patience personified, exceeding even the talented Heyward. After both players tied in the stolen base category, this week’s winner is Eric Hosmer. The future of the Kansas City Royals along with Moustakas and Myers, the George Brett comparisons are already ringing in for Hosmer. My hope is that he will handle them better than once golden boy Alex Gordon, who has finally got his career back on track this season after enduring many hardships and failed expectations along the way. Heyward, on the other hand, is becoming the new face of the Braves as Chipper Jones slowly begins to play out his last string. Both are excellent players with each team very high on its respective budding superstar. But the winner tonight is new MLB sensation, Eric Hosmer.
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