Yankees Non-Roster Invitee Profile: Slade Heathcott
Slade Heathcott has had one of the more unique experiences with the Yankees in the last few years. A 2009 first round pick, Heathcott has spent much of his previous five seasons on the disabled list. In fact, 2013 was the only season the outfielder played over 65 games in a single season.
2014 was not kind to Heathcott. He only played in nine games before being shut down for the season due to a knee injury that required surgery. However, it seems the worst may be behind him. After being cut from the 40 man roster last year, the Yankees resigned Heathcott to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
There is no room at the major league level for Heathcott, nor does he deserve a spot on the roster at this time. He has never played above the AA level and needs more time in Trenton and Scranton before thinking about him in the Bronx. In his most complete season with Trenton in 2013 he hit .261 with 8 home runs and 49 RBI in 103 games.
If Heathcott remains healthy, he is expected to begin the season in AA Trenton. He is 24 years old, but already has a lot of mileage on his legs. There may be room for him on the team in a few years if the Yankees trade Brett Gardner, but his chances are slim. Carlos Beltran is the only outfielder with a contract expiring in the next two seasons and stud minor leaguer Aaron Judge is already penciled in for the spot.
The Yankees have been trying to save money the last couple seasons, especially coming into 2015. The team would love to see Heathcott contribute in a way to afford the opportunity to move some of their outfield pieces. 2015 may be Heathcott’s last chance with the Yankees.
Heathcott went four picks after Mike Trout, a pick the Angels received as compensation from the Yankees. Seeing that only makes the Heathcott pick that much more frustrating to a team that rarely has early picks in the draft. Reds outfield speedster Billy Hamilton was selected in the second round of the same draft.
While most minor leaguers are playing with hopes of moving up the eventually secure a spot at the major league level, Heathcott is trying to show that he belongs in the minor league system.
He can eventually get to the point where he has the Bronx on his mind. For 2015, Heathcott needs to be healthy and productive and focused on his current team, most likely the Trenton Thunder.