2015 Statistics: 17 G, 30 PA, .400/.429/.720, 2 HR, 8 RBI
2015 Level/Roster Status: Low-A/Triple-A/40-man
The Yankees had high hopes for Slade Heathcott when they selected him as their number one draft pick back in 2009, but he never really lived up to the hype after being derailed by injury after injury. It started with shoulder surgery in 2010, then he had to have a second shoulder surgery which cut his 2011 season short. He showed potential in 2012, when he hit .302/.380/.461 through 65 games. However, Heathcott's 2013 season also ended early, this time so that he could have knee surgery. He missed the first two months of the 2014 season while rehabbing his knee then only made it into nine games before he had to have his surgically-repaired knee scoped again. All of the injuries slowed his progress in the farm system, but this year he finally started the season healthy.
Heathcott started the year in Triple-A after hitting .333 during spring training, and it wasn't long before he made his debut with the Yankees. When Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a knee sprain in May, the Yankees called up Heathcott to fill in for him. Unfortunately, Heathcott only made it into six games before he pulled a quad muscle and had to be placed on the disabled list. After missing a full two months, Heathcott returned to Triple-A where he hit .267/.315/.343 through 64 games. Heathcott got the chance to join the Yankees again when rosters expanded in September and he ended up being an asset off the bench. Most notably, Heathcott hit a three-run home run off the bench in the ninth inning of a tie game to beat the Rays. It may be a small sample size, but Heathcott hit the ball really well when given the chance.
Barring any trades, it looks like the Yankees' outfield will be set with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran next year. There is a spot open for a new backup outfielder since Chris Young was only signed to a one-year deal, but he had a decent season so they could decide to bring him back. It looks like Dustin Ackley (and possibly Rob Refsnyder) will be the Yankees' second baseman, but if the Yankees trade for a second baseman, Ackley could also serve as the backup outfielder since he played left and center with the Mariners. Heathcott should be the first in line to be the fourth outfielder if the Yankees' turn to Triple-A to fill the position. Mason Williams could be another option since he also hit well before he had to have season-ending shoulder surgery, but Aaron Judge almost certainly needs more seasoning before he gets the nod. Even if Heathcott doesn't win the backup role, he should have plenty of chances to fill in for injured players during the season, provided that he stays healthy.