Heyward and Freeman Form Dynamic Duo

While the Atlanta Braves have a collection of talented young stars, no pair across the league may be brighter than Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. On paper it is easy to see why the two players are often compared. Both are 6’5”, left-handed, 21-year-old power hitters but their connection runs deeper.

Right fielder Jason Heyward enjoyed a terrific rookie season in 2010 hitting .277 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI’s in 142 games as a 20-year-old. He was almost awarded the Rookie of the Year award midseason, but battled a thumb injury that limited his power in the second half before being outdueled by Giants’ catcher Buster Posey and his monstrous second half.

[caption id="attachment_199" align="aligncenter" width="432" caption="Braves Right Fielder Jason Heyward has quickly grabbed the attention of the league in his first two years (Photo by The Associated Press)"][/caption]

While Heyward was establishing himself as a dominant force in the Major Leagues, first baseman Freddie Freeman was plugging away for the Braves’ AAA affiliate in Gwinnett hitting .319 with 18 home runs and 87 RBI’s before a late season call-up where he saw 24 at-bats.

While both players were enjoying success in different leagues in 2010, they were actually roommates. They shared an apartment halfway between Turner Field in Atlanta and the minor league stadium in Gwinnett. Each morning after breakfast, both players would go their separate ways. If that isn’t good motivation for Freeman to join his friend in Atlanta, I don’t know what is.

Freeman’s 2011 rookie season is looking just as good, if not better, than Heyward’s in 2010. Freeman is hitting .279 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI’s in 97 games and is one of the top contenders for the NL’s Rookie of the Year. He looks to be swinging with more confidence, power, and consistency. Heyward’s 2011 season hasn’t quite been as spectacular. In 76 games, Heyward is hitting .227 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI’s. He missed some time and was put on the disabled list with inflammation and soreness is his right shoulder and most recently missed time with a sore foot after being hit by a pitch. Whether Heyward is truly 100% healthy yet remains to be seen, but it appears he is getting better.

[caption id="attachment_200" align="aligncenter" width="520" caption="First Baseman Freddie Freeman is becoming a top candidate for this year's Rookie of the Year award (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)"][/caption]

If both of these talented youngsters can continue to grow and develop their talents, the Braves are looking at a deep playoff run. A fully healed Jason Heyward and more experienced Freddie Freeman will bode well for Atlanta not only this year, but for many more to come.

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