The Braves will likely go into the 2010 with 31-year old righty swinging Matt Diaz sharing RF with 31-year old lefty swinging Eric Hinske. That could change if the Braves think that top prospect Jason Heyward is ready for the show. Diaz is a solid professional baseball played. He played in 125 games for the Braves last season and he was 116 of 371 (.313 avg, .878 OPS) with 56 runs scored, 13 homers, 58 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. Diaz made 2 errors in 66 games in RF last season while showing poor range. But he did have two assists so he has the arm to handle RF.
Eric Hinske played in 93 games for the Yankees & Pirates last season and he was 46 of 190 (.242 avg, .780 OPS) with 31 runs scored, 8 homers and 25 RBIs. Hinske is a good power hitter but it would be a reach to expect him to hit over .260 in 2010. Hinske didn’t make any errors in 35 games in RF last season while showing average range. He has a good arm for RF as he had 3 assists there in 2009.
The future in RF for the Braves is 20-year old lefty swinging Jason Heyward. Heyward played in 99 games in A+AA+AAA ball last season and he was 117 of 362 (.323 avg, .963 OPS) with 69 runs scored, 17 homers, 63 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He has now played three years in the minors appearing in 238 games in which he is 279 of 876 (.318 avg, .899 OPS) with 164 runs scored, 29 homers, 125 RBIs and 26 stolen bases. The Braves shouldn’t rush Heyward unless they are absolutely sure that he is ready for the show.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE RF IN 2010: C+