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His upside? "Hah!" Freeman cackled. Then, quietly and seriously: "I think what everybody else thinks."
The consensus is that Heyward can't miss, and his first week in the majors—he went 6 for his first 20 (.300), with two home runs, seven RBIs and a .391 on-base percentage—did nothing to dampen expectations. "The kid," Jones says, "is the real deal. There are only a few players in the game that when the ball comes off their bat you go, 'Whoa.' He's one of them. Pitchers will stop pitching to him. And when they do, he won't expand the strike zone. He'll walk 140 times.
"It's not a question of if he will be a star but a question of when. And he's a very humble kid."
Freeman and Heyward were born one month apart in 1989 and raised, in a baseball sense, the same way. They were professionals before they were professionals. Freeman played 150 games a year and traipsed to 15 combine-style showcase events around the country. He allowed himself to take off Christmas Day, so long as he was back in the cage with his dad the next morning.
"We're from opposite ends of the country," Heyward says, "but we like a lot of the same things: music, movies, just chillin'. Oh, he likes my music. I don't like all of his."
"He doesn't like my country," Freeman says. "He likes videogames, but not as much as I do. We both like to be inside. We don't like to be out. Both of us like to get our rest. We talk about anything. It's just fun to be around each other."
So who did the cooking when they roomed together?
They both laughed. Watching the two of them yuk it up recalled what was said about the Beatles: The most fun they ever had together was right before they made it really big, before a complicated life became the price of so much talent.
"You think about when you're kids," Freeman said during spring training, "and see these guys on TV and now you're in the same clubhouse as Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox. It's just so much fun to relax and just play baseball for a living. It's a great time in my life. I'm never going to forget it, and it's very humbling."