Yankees Prospect Profile: Slade Heathcott

US PRESSWIRE

Can this high-ceiling outfield prospect bounce back from a lackluster 2013 campaign?

Background:

Zachary Slade Heathcott, also known as "Heath Slaycott" by some, was born in Texarkana, Arkansas on September 28, 1990. Heathcott had a pretty tough childhood--an estranged biological father and a new father (through adoption) who divorced his mother and was later convicted of forgery--yet he was still able to overcome all of that to play baseball. After his mother's divorce, Slade attempted to remain in the same high school, Texas High, and had nowhere to live but his own car. He was also a great linebacker on his high school football team, but committed to baseball, as he was an All-American and planned to attend Louisiana State University on a baseball scholarship. Heathcott was selected as the 29th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, and after Louisiana State retracted his scholarship he signed with the New York Yankees, who offered him a $2.2 million signing bonus.

Heathcott was drafted with the potential of being a future left-handed hitting outfielder with power, a player perfectly catered to Yankee Stadium and was projected to not only hit 30 home runs a season, but also steal 30 bases. Unfortunately, that potential has been derailed by two major shoulder injuries in 2010 and 2011; both required season-ending surgeries. The surgeries sapped much of his throwing ability, but his raw power to the gaps remained. In 2012 in High-A Tampa, Heathcott had a slash line of .307/.378/.470 (142 wRC+) with five home runs, 16 doubles, and 17 stolen bases in 243 plate appearances.

2013 Results:

Double-A Trenton: 103 games, .261/.327/.411 (104 wRC+), 8 home runs, 22 doubles, 15 stolen bases

After Heathcott's breakthrough year in 2012, he was promoted to Double-A Trenton to start the 2013 season. Unfortunately, the performance that propelled him to that point ceased. Heathcott's 2013 ISO of .150 shows that his power took a hit from his multitude of injuries. His speed was not what it was in 2012 either; after stealing 17 bases in 21 attempts in only 60 games in 2012, Heathcott stole 15 bases in 23 attempts despite playing in 43 more games during the 2013 season.

2014 Outlook:

All signs point to Heathcott beginning the 2014 season in Double-A Trenton, barring some extreme variance in his Spring Training performance. According to most projections, he is not at all ready for MLB appearances. ZiPS projects Heathcott as a 77 OPS+ and 0.6 fWAR player in 418 PA, and Oliver projects him at 85 wRC+ and 1.4 fWAR in 600 PA. Obviously he won't get that many appearances, given the glut of outfielders on the major league team, but it's certainly a good rule of thumb as to where he is in his development.

If Heathcott can return to doing well the things that his early scouting reports highlighted, then it wouldn't be out of the question for him to end the season with Triple-A or even as depth on the big league club. He's had some serious setbacks and many have lost faith in him as a potential starting outfielder in the future, but given his background, he's had bigger obstacles to overcome in the past.

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