Chris Heisey at AFL Rising Stars Game

I didn’t know a lot about Chris Heisey when I reached Arizona a week ago. I had heard the name a bit before and knew he was something of a prospect for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds outfield prospect I was always most interested in was Texas Longhorn Drew Stubbs. And since Heisey never turned up ahead of Stubbs on prospects lists, I assumed he wasn’t anything to write home about.

In fact, a scan of the preseason prospect lists for Cincinnati shows Heisey rated rather low, if at all:

Baseball Prospectus – unranked
Redlegs Baseball Blog – unranked (listed in the Notables)
John Sickels – 14th
Baseball-Intellect – 14th

Heisey’s biggest assets were his ability to hit for a solid average and a strong batting eye, the latter obviously helping the former. In 2008, he hit .291/.375/.447 in 515 at-bats acquired mostly in High-A with nine home runs and 32 stolen bases. He walked 60 times while striking out just 84. I guess the lack of power and the fact that at 23, he might’ve been a bit old for High-A were what kept him from drawing much attention on the prospect lists.

In 2009, he obliterated AA with a .347/.426/.572 line including 13 home runs, 13 stolen bases and even 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (34 each) in 314 at-bats. That earned him a promotion to AAA where he fell off of his AA pace, but still hit .278/.323/.465 in 271 at-bats. The power held up though as he had 27 extra-base hits (nine of which were home runs). That just about equals the pace he had in AA (33 XBH in 314 at-bats), he just had a few more doubles than home runs after the move up.

His 2009 season coupled with his hot AFL performance will likely move him up on Reds prospects lists. Not to mention the graduation of other players who were on the lists this year. I only saw him for two games so I’m not going to make sweeping judgments, but he did hit a pair of bombs when I saw him and I really like his approach at the plate. He’s been projected as a 4th outfielder in most of what I’ve read, but I think he can be an everyday big leaguer with his all-around tools.

Slow-motion look at his All Star game home run:

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