Yankees Promote a Healthy Slade Heathcott

With Jacoby Ellsbury out of action for at least the next couple of weeks with a knee sprain, the Yankees called up former first round draft choice Slade Heathcott to help fill the void in the outfield. If it feels like you’ve been hearing about Heathcott for a while now, that’s because you have been. The Yankees took Heathcott 29th overall out of high school way back in 2009, but it’s taken him until now — at age-24 — to crack the major leagues.

Heathcott’s extended stay in the minor leagues hasn’t been due to a lack of talent, but has been almost entirely the result of injury. Slade’s spent an awful lot of time on the shelf since he was drafted back in 2009. Here’s a look at his lengthy injury history courtesy of Baseball Prospectus.


That’s four major surgeries — two on his left shoulder and two on his right knee — all before his 24th birthday. Unsurprisingly, Heathcott’s missed a boatload of games due to these maladies, including all but 9 games of the 2014 season. The days missed on the chart above sum to 336. Assuming 150 days in a minor league season, that works out to about 2.25 years missed in his first five years as a pro.

Despite this melange of injuries, Heathcott has performed well when he’s managed to stay on the field. He’s hit .275/.352/.409 in 364 games as a pro, which works out to a 115 wRC+. In addition to his exploits at the dish, he also provides excellent defense in center. His 65-grade speed enables him to make plays in the outfield, like this one from last month.


Hat tip to Donnie Collins of The Times Tribune for putting together the GIF.

In 37 games with Triple-A Scranton this year, Heathcott’s hit a strong .285/.335/.326 with an uncharacteristically-low 16% strikeout rate. Running his 2015 numbers through the KATOH machine yields an unspectacular projection of 1.8 WAR through age-28. This projection doesn’t exactly paint a glowing picture of Heathcott’s future, but it’s fair to think my system isn’t giving him a fair shake due to his missed development time. Although he’s already 24, he has about as much experience as your average 22-year-old due to his 2+ years lost to injury. It’s certainly not out of the question that Heathcott might have more potential for improvement than most 24-year-olds, especially in the plate discipline department.

There’s never been much doubt about Heathcott’s raw tools. Kiley McDaniel labeled him a 65 runner with at least 50 raw power in his pre-season writeup. Power-speed combinations like that don’t grow on trees. However, Heathcott’s inability to stay on the field has always held him back. But at least for now, Heathcott appears to be healthy for the first time in a long time. And after years of toiling in the minors and visiting surgeon after surgeon, he’ll finally get the opportunity to possibly help the Yankees.

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. He's also on the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell None of the views expressed in his articles reflect those of his daytime employer.

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8 years ago

Slade Heathcott is the name of an evil billionaire tycoon from DC/Marvel, not the name for a baseball player.

8 years ago
Reply to  Phillies113

Not sure if theres some joke that I’m missing (whoosh) or you’re just thinking of Slade wilson.