Myrtle Beach, SC (WMBF) – Jason Heyward began 2009 with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He started 2010 with the Atlanta Braves, hitting a home run in his first at-bat. His quick journey to the big leagues and fast success once he got there are serving as motivation for this year's Pelicans.
"It's part of the speech I tell these guys every year, you don't know how close you are to the big leagues," said Myrtle Beach Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler. "Guys think, 'here I am in Myrtle Beach, I have to go to Double-A and Triple-A before I get to the big leagues.' Believe me: your trip may be quicker than you think."
The players certainly see Heyward as an example they hope to emulate.
"That makes it a lot more real, seeing them go because we know we follow shortly after, so we're ready to get going, too," said Pelicans center fielder Cole Miles.
"It's always nice to see someone who was in your shoes the year before and makes it," said Pelicans pitcher Zeke Spruill. "It's just like...that could be me."
The Braves organization isn't just using Heyward's example to motivate players. They hope to find another fast-rising star by the beach this season.
"When they're ready to go, they'll tell us they're ready," said Wheeler. "Jason Heyward told us he was ready, so we're hoping to get another Jason Heyward out of this bunch."