Jason Adenolith Heyward (born August 9, 1989), nicknamed The J-Hey Kid and J-Hey, is an American professional baseball right fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). Originally the Atlanta Braves' first-round selection in the 2007 MLB Draft from Henry County High School in Georgia, he began his minor league career at age 17. Heyward soon became one of the top-rated prospects in all of baseball for batting, speed, and defense, and debuted in MLB as Atlanta's starting right fielder on Opening Day, 2010. There, he played until being traded to the Cardinals after the 2014 season. Standing 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) tall and weighing 245 pounds (111 kg), he throws and bats left-handed. He has worn uniform #22 throughout his major league career in honor of a high school friend and teammate who died in a traffic collision.
A three-time minor league All-Star game selection, Baseball America (BA) selected Heyward as the Braves' top overall prospect in 2007, the organization's best power hitter, having the best strike zone discipline, and multiple other skills. In 2009, he won a Minor League Player of the Year Award from both BA and USA Today. That year, he batted .323 with 17 home runs (HR), 63 runs batted in (RBI) a .408 on-base percentage and .555 slugging percentage over 99 games. A consensus number-one MLB prospect entering the 2010 season, BA, Keith Law of ESPN.com and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com both listed Heyward as baseball's top prospect.
After making his MLB debut for Atlanta in 2010, Heyward was named to the National League (NL) All-Star team and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year Award. BA named him their MLB Rookie of the Year. Injuries limited his playing time in 2011 and 2013. With a breakout season in 2012, he hit 27 HR with 82 RBI and 21 stolen bases while finishing tenth in the NL in runs scored with 93. Also recognized for his defense including coverage in the deepest parts of right field, he won the both Fielding Bible and NL Gold Glove Awards for right fielders in 2012 and 2014, and Wilson's MLB Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
By Dean Hanley
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