POSITION: Right-handed pitcher
BORN ON: August 28, 1985
AGE: Will be 22 most of this season
BORN IN: Atlanta, Georgia
LIVES IN: Decatur, Georgia
WEIGHT: 205 pounds
SCHOOL: University of Tennessee
ACQUIRED: Selected by the Braves in the 19th round of the 2006 draft
SIGNED BY: Billy Best
STATISTICSClick here for Heath's 2007 minor league stats
SCOUTING REPORTThe Braves were really anxious to see Heath make his professional debut after he signed late in 2006. He was sent to Rome and was apart of a piggyback situation with Kyle Cofield. Heath would start half the games and then Cofield would come in to relieve him, and then the next time around Cofield would start and Heath would be the reliever.
It really didn't matter what role Heath had, he excelled for his entire time at Rome. Heath had a 2.80 ERA in the nine games he started, and a 0.69 ERA in the seven games he relieved. Overall, he allowed only 16 earned runs on 59 hits in 71 innings, with 19 walks, and 47 strikeouts.
In the six games Heath pitched in June before his promotion to Myrtle Beach, he was spectacular. Heath allowed only five runs on 12 hits in 26 innings, with nine walks, and 21 strikeouts.
The Braves then sent Heath to the Carolina League and the right-hander experienced some trouble. Heath had a 5.82 ERA in 11 games (all starts), with 31 walks and 47 strikeouts in 55.2 innings of work.
In a way, Heath had the perfect developmental season. He experienced great success in Rome and was able to see what he was doing right, and then struggled at the next level and was able to learn what he was doing wrong. His command was off in Myrtle Beach, and then he got tired late in the season. So now moving forward Heath will know how to combat those same problems when it happens again in the future.
Heath developed into a top-notch pitcher in Rome in the first half. He showed an above average fastball that sits at 92-95 mph with an occasional 96. Heath started using his changeup more, which he really didn't do in college at Tennessee. He was pretty much a fastball, slider pitcher.
The Braves love Heath's makeup and feel he made great strides last season, despite the adversity he faced in the Carolina League. Now he just has to build on what he learned and take that next step. Right now, it's still up in the air whether Heath can be more effective as a starter or as a reliever. The upcoming season may determine his future role. Scouts from other teams have taken notice of Heath as being a prospect with a bright future.
2008 OUTLOOKHeath will return to Myrtle Beach to start the season, and don't be surprised if the Braves leave him there for the entire season. Of course, if he dominates the Carolina League like he did the Sally League in the first half last season they may have no choice but to promote him to Double-A. Heath will be in the rotation, and the Braves are anxious to see what Heath can do in more than the 126 innings he pitched last season.
ADDITIONAL STORY LINKSClick here for Heath's 2007 Player Profile
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.