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Updated: April 22, 2010, 2:18 AM ET

While looking at Heyward, keep an eye on Prado

Olney By Buster Olney
ESPN
Jason Heyward's ability to generate runs and late-inning drama has obscured the strong early start of one of his teammates, Martin Prado. But count Brian McCann among those who have noticed.

[+] EnlargeMartin Prado
AP Photo/John BazemoreMartin Prado might not get a ton of attention on a team with Jason Heyward, but don't overlook him.

See, McCann had once predicted to his brother that someday Prado would win a batting title. McCann had played with Prado in the minor leagues and had recognized his talents.

"I always saw it [Prado as a good player]," said McCann, standing near the batting cage at Turner Field on Tuesday evening as the Braves took batting practice.

Scouts have been greatly impressed with his progression, as well.

"He reminds me of Placido Polanco," one longtime scout said last week. "He's a good hitter, and he's gotten better and better as a contact hitter. Now he's starting how to drive the ball when the counts works in his favor. He's a lot like Polanco, too, in that he's a player you can win with. You can envision him being part of a team that can win the postseason." So far this season, Prado is hitting .431 with a .500 on-base percentage, numbers that are only possible because he has been excellent while hitting in two-strike counts: After falling behind in the count in 2010, Prado is 3-for-8; after 1-2 counts, he is 8-for-17 with a couple of walks.

"This is the year I think that everybody is going to learn how good of a player he really is," the scout said.

Everybody, that is, except Brian McCann.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and an analyst for "Baseball Tonight." Read his daily blog here.

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