Thursday, January 23, 2014

Slade Heathcott, OF:

Taken in the first round in 2009, Slade Heathcott has always shown impressive tools. However a myriad of injuries has stopped him from showing evaluators his true potential. During the first three years of his Yankees career it seems as if he has spent more time recovering from injuries than actually playing. While he did have a minor surgery in 2013, he set a career high in games played and that may be his most important stat.

Vital Statistics:

DOB: September 28, 1990
Bat-Throws: L/L
HT: 6.1
WT: 190

2011 SALL stats (52 gms) AVG/OBP/SLG/WOBA/WRC+                            .271/.342/.419/.346/110
2011 FSL  stats (1 gm)                                                                                      .600/.600/1.200/.794/408
2012 GCL stats (5 gms)                                                                                    .235/.409/.353/.378/139 
2012 FSL stats (60 gms)                                                                                   .307/.378/.470/.389/142
2012 AZFL stats (18 gms)                                                                                .388/.494/..612/.499/192
2013 EAS   stats (103 gms)                                                                               .261/.327/.411/.334/104


Heathcott's injury history started before his minor league debut, as it was a big reason that the Yankees were able to draft him. Slade entered the 2009 draft as one of the toolsiest players in the draft, and if it weren't for shoulder/knee injuries the Yankees would've had no chance in drafting him. However a combination of injuries and makeup concerns led him to be ranked as only the 72nd best prospect by BA, the 51st best prospect by Keith Law. The Yankees selected him with the 29th pick in the draft and gave him a $2.2 million bonus.

This may seem like an overpay but no one really questioned Slade's talent. His stock was only low because of injuries and makeup concerns. Most of these makeup concerns can be found in the following link, There's no question that Slade has been through a lot in his life, but so far his past mistakes haven't really affected his baseball career. Additionally it would be unfair to punish him for having bad parents as he doesn't appear to be a bad person.

Heathcott's first full season as a Yankee began in 2010 and like Mason Williams, Slade was able to skip low A and start in A ball. It was clear to scouts that Slade was something special and he was initially compared to a power hitting version of Brett Gardner. His strong 2010 season led BA to rank him as the 18th best prospect in the South Atlantic League. BA also named him as the best defensive OF in the Yankees system.

However his season ended with a shoulder surgery, and many worried that the injury would slow him down. This would quickly become a theme for the young slugger as he has visited the disabled list every single year. The surgery kept him in A ball for another year, and it was only in 2012 that he was really able to breakout again.

Slade may have missed a big chunk of 2012 recovering from his second shoulder surgery, but he made up for lost time by dominating high A and the Arizona Fall League. His performance got him some national praise as the BA (63) and Keith Law(52) considered him a top 100 player. BA also ranked him as the 17th in the FSL, which is good when you consider how little he played. BA also ranked him as the sixth best prospect in the Arizona Fall League.

2013 Performance:

While his stats weren't great, the simple fact that Heathcott avoided a major surgery may make it his best year yet. Additionally Slade did start to heat up at the end of the 2013 season as he hit for a .851 OPS in July and a .996 OPS in August. Because he has had so many injuries, it's almost as if his age doesn't matter as much as it should.

He is inexperienced compared to other AA hitters his own age due to all the time he missed.  It may not seem impressive that he was a slightly above average hitter in AA, but when you consider his lack of experiance and the fact that Trenton has a park factor of .953 it wasn't an awful season either.

His performance won't, and shouldn't get him onto many lists, but sadly staying healthy as long as he did makes his 2013 season a success.Unfortunately his success didn't last an entire year. His season was cut short by a minor knee operation, and according to Mark Newman Slade may not be 100% for spring training.

Scouting Report:

Despite a long history of injuries Heathcott is still considered to have 5 tool potential. Even his surgically repaired arm is regaining some power. Slade is considered a plus defender and has the ability to develop above average power. His biggest question mark is his bat as something he gets into bad habits. However, he has exceptional bat speed and strong hands so there is no reason he shouldn't be a good hitter. The one thing holding him back is pitch selection, which may be due to his lack of game time experience.

One of the biggest aspects of Slade's game is his effort. He is the type of player fans will love to watch as he sacrifices his body to make plays and he runs out easy ground-outs. He's the type of guy that will actually be affected by MLB rule to ban collisions. While fans may like this type of play it leads to injuries and Slade shouldn't go out of his way to put his body at risk. He has missed enough games as it is, so it would be in Heathcott's best interest to tone down his game.


It is entirely possible that Slade manages to reach his potential as a Brett Gardner player with more power. But with the number of outfield prospects in the Yankee system he has to break out soon.Even if he doesn't reach his full potential he could still be a  valuable player. Chris Denorfia was worth a fwar of 4 last year due to being a slightly above average hitter and having a good glove. Slade already has a plus glove, and is the faster player.

2014 Level:

According to Mark Newman the Yankees won't know where Slade will start 2014 until the end of spring training. However the newlywed is probably ticked for AAA, as too many players need to begin the year at AA. Even if Tyler Austin gets most of his reps at third, Slade would still need to battle Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Taylor Dugas for time in AA. A good season in AAA may mean that Slade can become a major league starter if any of the Yankees outfielders get hurt. At this point Heathcott can't afford another injury, and must start to tap into his immense potential.

1 comment:

  1. that picture is of tyler austin, not slade