26 Jun

jay-hey now

Maybe it’s time to move Jason Heyward up in the Atlanta batting order. The former Mississippi Braves standout hit .522 with three home runs last week to win the National League hitter of the week award and is batting .391 in June. He has 11 home runs all told. This is more like the Heyward we saw in 2010, when he batted .277 with 18 bombs as a 20-year-old rookie. Last year, he fell off to .227 and 14, and through May of this year, he was languishing at .233. But adjustments he’s made at the plate seem to be paying off. Heyward certainly has the speed to hit higher in the order — he hit No. 2 a lot in 2010 — and yet he has been stuck in the lower half most of the year while some of the hitters above him have struggled. P.S. Billy Hamilton stole three bases Sunday and another on Monday to run his season total to 91. The Taylorsville Tornado, playing for Cincinnati’s high-A team in the California League, is on pace to break Vince Coleman’s 1983 pro record of 145 steals, set in A-ball. If Hamilton gets promoted to Double-A, however, his pace might fall off. Pitchers and catchers pay much more attention to baserunners at that level. … There was a time when Hattiesburg native Joey Gathright was considered the fastest man in baseball. He once swiped 69 in a season (2003), split between A-ball and Double-A, and has over 300 for his pro career. Now 31, he may have slowed down a bit. Playing for the Reds’ Triple-A Louisville club, Gathright is batting .300 but has just two stolen bases in four attempts.

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