Is he the second coming of Cody Johnson or is there more to him than just a slugging corner OF?
Well the short answer to the question is, no he isn't Cody Johnson. Not by a long shot. If you don't know who Cody Johnson is just click that link up there. Actually I will give a short explanation. He was a first round draft pick in 2006 who most people considered a reach at the time in a thin draft. Power was always his calling card and he had it in bunches. The problem, as with most power hitters, is he completely sold out for power. But really in a way that no one else did. His lowest strikeout rate at any stop, at any level in the minors was 26.7%. So yeah, contact problems.
Robby Hefflinger. Since being drafted Hefflinger has always been said to have good raw power. The problem was, unlike Johnson, it never really showed up in games. You don't have to look far to see why he has raw power: he stands 6' 5" and weighs 235. He's an athletic big guy as well, serving as a backup catcher in college on top of being a pitcher. But all that size and athleticism has taken time to develop in to in game results. He has shown steady improvement each year. In 2009 he posted just .288 wOBA in 240 AB with Danville. In 2010 he made the Rome roster, but had just a .298 wOBA (.132 ISO). 2011 saw him return to Rome for a full season, but he still showed little improvement with .303 wOBA and .151 ISO. His strikeout rate was 26.7% and his walks dropped from 8.1% in 2010 to 5.2% in 2011.
Hefflinger made one last trip to Rome in 2012 and something clicked. In 296 AB there he hit 12 homers (already a career high) and had a .200 ISO. His strikeouts dropped to 23.8% and his walks jumped to 11.2%, both of which were career bests. That season just set up his breakout in 2013. His 23 homers are obviously already a career high, and his .293 ISO is nearly 100 points better than his previous high. He has even kept his K rate below 25%. His walks have suffered some, but that can probably be attributed to him just hitting the ball so well.
So what do we have here? At 23 he isn't a young guy, but the Cardinals are proving that everyone doesn't have to be Jason Heyward, Bryce Harper or Julio Teheran to be a useful player. Hefflinger has enough power in his bat that I think he could be a useful player in the majors. Maybe even a starter. He has made the adjustments necessary as he moved up the ladder, even if he spent a couple years on one rung. His K rate has lowered as he has moved up, which I LOVE to see, and his walks have fluctuated but remained solid enough. I wouldn't be surprised if he flamed out in AA or AAA, but there is enough potential here to have a nice player in a couple of seasons in case one of our OFers disappears.