In just a few hours hundreds of the best amateur baseball players from around the globe are going to hear their name called in the 2017 MLB First Year Player Draft. Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward heard his name called in the first round of the draft 10 years ago this week in a draft filled with Cy Young winners, World Series Champions, and MVPs. Fellow teammates Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo were also selected in that year. The memories of the entire process are still vivid in his mind. I caught up with him and picked his brain about one of the most exhilarating and terrifying days in a baseball players life.
Russell Dorsey: It’s been 10 years since you’re hometown Atlanta Braves drafted you in the 1st round of the 2007 MLB Draft, thinking back to that moment, what was that draft experience like for you?
Jason Heyward: “You try and work as hard as you can to go as high as possible in the draft and you see what happens. You never know how it’s going to go, but that was a cool day and a cool moment for my family and I. To see that hard work pay off—a lot of time, effort, money spent and sleep lost to see something pay off.”
RD: There are 17 and 18-year-olds who are about to have more money than they ever imagined. If they manage it right, reach their goals and make it to their first major league contract, we’re talking about generational wealth not only for them, but their family. What kind of pressure does that put on a kid that age?
JH: “I feel like everybody’s different. For me, I didn’t know how it was going to play out, but I knew that was what I was trying to prepare for. When I got to it, I was like ‘this is what I had to do, this is who I want to be and this is where I want to be so let’s have fun and enjoy it.'”
RD: What is one thing you which someone had told you prior to your draft process back in 2007?
JH: “You can’t trust everybody. It’s a business. You have to look out for yourself and your family on your way to establishing yourself.”
RD: As someone who was selected in the 1st round of the draft, what are these guys going through as the draft approaches? What’s going through their minds?
JH: “It’s way more publicity now along with the social media element than when I got drafted in ’07. I think we were kind of at the beginning of the turnover for that new wave of things. I imagine their going to have fun with it.”
RD: Any words of advice you’d give the young cats?
JH: “It’s only the beginning of a long journey and I feel like at the big league level you see a lot of players and people, involved in the game get to this level. It’s guys on the coaching staff, front office, on the team in whatever capacity from all walks of life. Doesn’t matter where you get drafted or sign as a free agent, you can have a long career in this game.”