The discomfort that Jacoby Ellsbury felt on a swing during Tuesday night's game against the Nationals has been preliminarily diagnosed as a knee sprain, sending the Yankee center fielder to the 15-day disabled list. Until further testing is done, we won't know the extent of the injury. Hopefully all of his ligaments are still intact and he'll only miss the minimum amount of time.
Replacing Ellsbury on the roster will be Triple-A outfielder Slade Heathcott. Heathcott has gone from top prospect to being removed from the 40-man roster in his Yankee tenure, but he has performed well and stayed healthy so far this season. Ramon Flores' numbers with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre have been a bit better than Heathcott's to this point, but Heathcott can play center field unlike Flores. This likely points to a platoon situation between Chris Young and Heathcott in center field, keeping Brett Gardner patrolling left. Joe Girardi has the option of going with a Gardner/Heathcott/Young outfield, providing great defense when he needs it. That will be important with Ellsbury's fantastic defensive skills missing for at least the next 15 days.
Getting Heathcott onto the roster won't be an issue. The Yankees can place either Chase Whitley or Brendan Ryan on the 60-day DL to free up room. Since Whitley underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, moving him off the roster seems like the most logical step.
In 37 Triple-A games this season, Heathcott has hit .285/.335/.358 with one home run and five stolen bases. He has also collected four doubles and two triples. His April was fantastic, but he hasn't followed it up with a great May so far. Heathcott's numbers against right-handers have been better than his marks against lefties, with a .711 OPS vs. a .646 OPS. He also has very good numbers with runners in scoring position, for whatever that is worth at the minor league level. Heathcott also plays some incredible defense in the outfield which will be a treat to watch for as long as he is with the team.
After the long, winding road it has taken him to get here, it's impossible not to be thrilled for Heathcott. He has battled so many injuries that he has only managed to top 100 games once in his time as a professional. He performed well in spring training, and is finally going to get somewhat of a shot at the big league level. Here's hoping he makes the most of it.
One prospect who could benefit from Heathcott's sudden promotion is Aaron Judge. Judge has been tearing up Double-A so far in 2015, and was seen hurriedly leaving Arm & Hammer ballpark tonight. Could he have gotten word that he'll be replacing Heathcott with the RailRiders? We'll probably have to wait until at least tomorrow to find out. Either way, exciting things are happening with the baby Yankees, and that is always exciting.