If you follow the Braves and/or spend much time around other Braves fans, maybe you've heard it. Perhaps in a hushed tone, with raised eyebrows as if the person saying it is implying, "I'm not saying I believe it, but…"

If you've been online much, you've probably seen it on Twitter or in blog comments.

It's this: Freddie Freeman is to Jason Heyward as Brian McCann is to Jeff Francoeur.

There, I typed it. But I had an eyebrow raised while typing it.

Because it's way too early to make that assessment, in my view. Not when Heyward, a consensus pick as the top prospect in baseball before his arrival, had 18 homers, a whopping .393 on-base percentage and .849 OPS in 142 games as a 20-year-old rookie in 2010, despite playing much of the season with a thumb injury that sapped his power.

But I can see why some at least whisper it, or say it off the record.

Because when Francoeur and McCann, two Atlanta-area kids, were climbing quickly through the Braves' system and later arrived the same summer in the majors, we (media) made one of them out to be the can't-miss kid and the Golden Child, the heir apparent to Chipper Jones as the face of the franchise, etc.

That one wasn't McCann.

And with Heyward and Freeman, close friends and roommates while coming through the Braves' minor-league system, what was written and said by us (media) was that Heyward looked to be a future superstar, while Freeman was also a really good prospect who figured to have a long and successful career.

Heyward arrived a year earlier than Freeman and took the league by storm, beginning with his prodigious feats in 2010 spring training and tape-measure homer on Opening Day that electrified Turner Field and made him the youngest player in 60 years to homer in his first major league at-bat.

He suddenly took on near-mythic stature in baseball circles. He really did. And as the word spread and Heyward posted a plus-1.000 OPS in the first eight weeks of his career, leading the NL in that category, he was voted to start in the All-Star game.

Then, problems began. He was benched for one game for not being aggressive enough, taking too many called strikes. No big deal. He hurt his thumb, tried to play through it, then went on the DL and missed the All-Star game. Pretty big deal.

We won't go into a rehash of all the details, suffice to say here's the statistical breakdown:

In his first 46 major league games through May 30, 2010, Heyward hit .301 (47-for-156) with 10 homers, 38 RBIs, an .421 OBP and .596 slugging percentage, for an astounding 1.017 OPS.

In 206 games since then, Heyward has hit .245 (175-for-713) with 21 homers, 74 RBIs, a .348 OBP and .394 slugging percentage (.742 OPS).