On April 5, 2010, Jason Heyward was 20 years old -- an age when most of his friends would have been coming off spring break and downshifting toward the end of the school year. Instead, Heyward was making his Major League debut at Turner Field -- the kid from suburban Henry County High School and the East Cobb Baseball Program -- and in his first big league plate appearance, Heyward crushed a three run homer.

And so Heyward found himself in the runaway truck lane. He came into the spring as the consensus choice as the best prospect in the game. He was the hometown hero, the beacon of hope for baseball less than two weeks from the day Bud Selig dedicates to Jackie Robinson. He was cast as the ideal franchise pillar -- son of Dartmouth-educated parents, civil, cerebral, and he was suddenly compared to Henry Aaron. Soon thereafter, he was leading the All-Star balloting.

Again, Heyward was 20 years old.

"I tried to keep it simple, block all that out," Heyward now says. "I tried to show up and just play baseball, the game I love."

By and large, he did. A left thumb injury slowed Heyward down and kept him out of the All-Star Game, but he finished the season with 18 homers and an .849 OPS, holding the promise of a long hometown career.

Heyward is 22 today, younger than that now.