The 2007 baseball draft was a wang dang doodle of a party at Heyward House, an unreserved, unambiguous celebration of a dream fulfilled.
Jason was plucked 14th overall by the hometown Braves, a team that continues to employ him in right field. His jump from Henry County High School to the pros seemed just about predestined.
The 2013 draft commences Thursday and snakes through three days and 40 rounds. Another Heyward — Jason’s young brother Jacob — is out there for the taking. It figures to be a more subdued ceremony back home this time.
A 6-foot-2, 180-pound outfielder at Class A-Private state champion Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Jacob, if he is drafted, certainly will go later, much later, than his brother.
Some of the high points the Heywards will hit this week: managing expectation and reminding the younger brother that this draft experience is uniquely his own, unburdened by what Jason accomplished.
Otherwise, what awaits Jacob in this draft is a great mystery — as his father, Eugene, said, “I have absolutely no idea what will happen.
“I know he wants to play (professionally), but he has options.”
The elder Heyward said he has preached to his youngest son about what he already has accomplished in baseball, continually reminding him that a scholarship at Miami awaits should he not get drafted high enough for his liking. There are many worse fallback positions than Coral Gables, Fla.
“This is a happy time. He’s going to get drafted somewhere. If it’s not where he wants it to be, if it’s not a fit for him, that’s OK. Just go back to work and keep getting better,” Eugene said.
Jacob’s senior season at ELCA began slowly, much in the fashion of his older brother’s current woes with the Braves. But he kicked it in as the Chargers were at the head of the homestretch. Jacob finished with a .333 batting average, a .510 on-base percentage, nine home runs and a team-leading 42 RBIs in 33 games.
He arrived at ELCA a third baseman, but his coach, recognizing an athletic ability suited to roam the outfield, moved Jacob to right field. More than a position, right field is by now almost a family trait.
Being Jason Heyward’s little brother, while playing the same position, has come with its own set of challenges. If nothing else, that certainly will toughen him a little for whatever baseball may bring.
“He caught a lot of flack about that from opposing teams, players and fans,” said his coach, Doug Campbell. “They loved to compare and make comments. He handled that pretty well, especially this season.”
Jason last week had no comment about Jacob, brusquely brushing off a question about his brother’s prospects.
Yes, Jason’s employer, the Braves, are among the teams that have worked out Jacob, and they have first-hand, highly placed experience with his power potential.
With Braves general manager Frank Wren in the seats to watch his son, Jordan, and Landmark Christian in a playoff game, Jacob went very deep in one ELCA victory.
“Hit that one a mile, an absolute bomb,” Campbell said.
The kid’s sense of timing checked out as being absolutely draft-worthy.