Jacob Heyward was a impact player with many tools on the field for The U. In fact he displayed his tools well enough in his time in Miami to be drafted in the 18th Round by the San Francisco Giants in the 2016 MLB Draft. He seemed to show flashes in his time on campus, but can he put it all together in the majors?
Let’s take a look at his past to find out:
High School: Jacob attended Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga. He was the 196th rated HS Senior as a result of his batting average of .331, his 9 HRs, and his 42 RBIs. This stat line enticed the Atlanta Braves into using a draft pick on him in the 38th Round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but Jacob declined to sign with the organization and stayed true to his commitment to UM.
Freshman Year: Jacob’s time as a Freshman was mostly used developmentally, as he only played in 24 games, starting 11, mostly as a DH and pinch-hitter. He posted a batting average of .205 in only 44 At-Bats, and posted only 1 RBI. Although as said before, this was mainly a developmental year.
Sophomore Year: This was Jacob’s BREAKOUT year. He emerged as the starting LF for the ‘Canes after posting an extremely impressive .327 batting average. Jacob played in 56 games this season and started in 22 of those games (including the last 17 in a row) and served as the ‘Canes proof that the “Sophomore Slump” doesn’t apply to everyone, as in addition to his .327 batting average he slammed 4 HRs and knocked in 24 RBIs. He also stole 7 bases. Jacob was also clutch in the postseason, as he was named to the 2015 College World Series All-Tournament Team. This incredible season resulted in many high expectations for Jacob’s Junior Season.
Junior Year: Heyward took the starting LF job from the start in his Junior Season. He started all 64 games of the season, one of only 4 Hurricanes to do so, and proved himself as a reliable, but not spectacular player, as he could not match his Sophomore Season’s success. Jacob batted only .242 for the season, but posted a very strong .404 on base percentage due to his ability to force walks, (48 for the season). He remained a big factor in the Hurricanes offense despite his decreased batting average, as he drove in a career-high 39 RBIs and hit 6 HRs. Heyward also proved his abilities in high-pressure situations again, as he batted .429 in the College World Series.
Professional Career and Future Hopes: Jacob was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 18th Round of the 2016 MLB Draft. Most analysts agree that a key for him in the future will be finding more power in his bat, which is definitely something he can achieve because of his tall 6’3” frame. He began his career in the Giants Organization in the Northwest League with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, which is a Class-A Short-Season team. This is where most draft picks after around the 3rd-5th Round start out, depending on their individual development. Jacob then played for the Arizona Giants in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL is a league filled with top prospects from MLB teams in order to give them some extra experience and development time. Heyward batted a very solid .286 in Class-A Short-Season (although he only played 4 games there) and an impressive .337 in the AFL. Jacob looks to play in Class-A next season with a move to Class-A Advanced later in the season and could make a move to Double-A if he impresses, although he probably won’t appear in Double-A until 2018. Most experts believe Jacob will make the MLB in around 2021 assuming he develops to the level most believe he can.
Conclusion: Jacob Heyward was a key player in multiple years for two very good ‘Canes teams. His Junior Season was somewhat disappointing compared to his Sophomore Season, but it is hard to complain about a solid fielder who gets on base often and comes up in the clutch. Jacob profiles similarly to another outfielder in the MLB who is from Georgia, Dexter Fowler, both are outfielders who are clutch and get on base often, despite not having the highest batting average. Hopefully Heyward reaches his potential and proves to be a solid player in the MLB, and that he adds another player to the mantle of current MLB ProCanes.