When the New York Yankees selected outfielder Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 MLB Draft he was considered to be a potential five tool player. His career has been somewhat sidetracked thanks in part to injuries and off the field problems. The off the field problems look like they are a thing of the past but the injuries have prevented Heathcott from advancing as both he, and the Yankees, would like.
Last season, Heathcott underwent his second shoulder surgery in as many years which caused him to miss the first half of the season. When he returned he swung a pretty hot bat, hitting .302/.380/.461 with five home runs, 27 RBI, 18 doubles, and 17 steals in 65 games, mostly with Single-A Tampa.
Heathcott continued his hot hitting in the Arizona Fall League where he posted a .388/.494/.612 across 18 games. On defense Heathcott might be the best outfielder in the Yankees system with elite arm strength, range, and an outstanding read on fly balls.
Right now, Heathcott might begin the year at Double-A Trenton as he has yet to play above Single-A at this point. A start in Tampa followed by a quick promotion to Trenton might also be in the cards depending on Heathcott’s spring and health.
Keith Law recently named Heathcott the 57th best prospect heading into 2013, raving about his all-out play but even stating he needed to “dial it down a notch” to prevent getting hurt. The Yankees might move Heathcott to a corner outfield spot as well in order to keep him healthier, something Law also noted.
In Heathcott, the Yankees have a player with immense potential. If he can stay healthy, a big question given his history, the Yankees might be looking at their starting left or right fielder for the next decade or more. If Heathcott stays healthy and continues to develop he might be making a cameo in the Bronx next year and might stick by 2015 where he will enjoy slapping the ball to all fields and aiming at the short porch in right field which his smooth, left-handed swing should adapt well to.