Heathcott Plays At Full Speed For Yankees

NEW YORK—Through Slade Heathcott's injuries and personal problems, the Yankees always believed in two things: He played full bore, and he had plenty of talent inside a very athletic body.

At times it was hard to project where the first-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Texas High in Texarkana was headed.

Now 22, after left (throwing) shoulder surgery in 2011, the 6-foot, 205-pound outfielder is showing signs of making a move up the prospect ladder.

"He plays really hard and wants to be good," vice president Mark Newman said.
Because Heathcott was limited to 60 games in 2012 for high Class A Tampa, Newman and the Yankees gave Heathcott a schedule for the Arizona Fall League where he wasn't to play the outfield for seven to eight consecutive games for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Yet even in the low-key AFL, Heathcott's intensity was still on display.

"We are trying to take it easy with him, and he tried to run over a catcher at the plate," Newman said of Heathcott, who wasn't injured in the collision.

Heathcott stayed healthy enough to bat .388/.494/.612 in 67 at-bats in the AFL, with 10 of his 26 hits going for extra bases.

Heathcott doesn't rank as the Yankees' top outfield prospect—that honor belongs to Mason Williams, the system's top prospect. In Heathcott's rise to become the Yankees' No. 2 prospect, what has to be remembered is that, since being drafted three-plus years ago, Heathcott has played just 197 games.

Then there is the matter of where he plays next season. After 60 games for Tampa, is Heathcott ready for the next step? Or would he benefit from starting the season at Tampa?

 "It could be the Florida State League or it could be Double-A,"Newman said. "We haven't made that decision."


• After being limited to 31 games in 2012 due to a back problem that surfaced early in spring training, catcher Austin Romine hit .222/.342/.286 in 18 games in the Arizona Fall League. While there is an outside chance Romine will be in the mix for the big league backup job, his development might benefit from playing regularly at Triple-A.

• Infielder David Adams had a strong AFL campaign, hitting .286/.388/.524 in 22 games with more walks (14) than strikeouts (13).