Giants draft Heyward's brother on own merits

Giants draft Heyward's brother on own merits

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants focused on University of Miami center fielder Jacob Heyward's skills when they selected him in Saturday's 18th round of the 2016 Draft. They didn't dwell on his surname.

Certainly, having All-Star outfielder Jason Heyward of the Chicago Cubs as an older brother enhances the draftee's cachet. But it'll do nothing for him between the foul lines should he decide to sign with the Giants.

"You still have to be able to play," Giants scouting director John Barr said. "He was judged on who he is and his abilities, not on his brother's. It's him that we took. It's him that we think can be a big leaguer. It's him that we think can contribute. He stands alone on that.

"Sure, does the name stand out? Yeah. But that only goes so far. That may get someone to take another look at him. But it doesn't get you selected and it doesn't carry you."

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The younger Heyward, 20, was participating with Miami at an NCAA Super Regional and could not be reached for comment. Jason Heyward, in Atlanta for a weekend series with the Cubs, sounded upbeat about his younger brother potentially joining the Giants.

"It's awesome," Heyward said. "It's a good organization. I feel that's all he wants, is an opportunity to go play and work hard and try to make something happen out of it. It's just cool to see him have a chance."

Barr said his scouts have followed Jacob Heyward since he played high school baseball at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga.

"He has strength. He has tools to play the game," Barr said of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior. Barr added the Giants intend "to get him into the system, have our player-development people work with him and try to help take him to the next level."

Heyward made that sort of advancement as a sophomore in 2015, when he hit .327 and earned a spot as Miami's starting left fielder by the end of the season. Through 59 games this year, however, Heyward hit .226, though he has displayed some power with 10 doubles and six home runs. The right-handed batter also has amassed 37 RBIs and 41 runs as one of four Hurricanes to start each game.

Jason Heyward considered this a year of transition for his brother, who was drafted by Atlanta in the 38th round in 2013 but did not sign.

"He didn't get to play every day until the second part of last year for them," Heyward said. "He started the year off batting in the four-hole, and then they moved him out of the four-hole and I feel he's been battling with that and seeing what it feels like and how he needs to adjust. I feel that was the biggest reason he needed to go to college was to just play and see how it feels. Unfortunately, it didn't come until his junior year that he got to play every day.

"He's done well at the plate in the playoffs. It's about building. You get in the Minor Leagues and he'll have the opportunity to build on that."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. Carrie Muskat, who has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001, contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.