Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports

Here's a scouting report on Scranton RailRiders outfielder Slade Heathcott.

The New York Yankees selected outfielder Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 MLB out of Texas High School in Texas. His top-shelf talent has never been in dispute over the years as evidenced by his brief big league time last season. His biggest weakness, however, has been his inability to stay out of the training room and on the field long enough to optimize his unique five-tool package.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Slade Heathcott
Position: Centerfield
DOB: September 28, 1990
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

Batting and Power. Heathcott is really unique for a couple of reasons.  First, he's a much better hitter than his career .267 average to date reveals.  Second, it is rather amazing he's had the success he's had thus far and shown the consistent natural hitting ability he has displayed considering how much development time he has lost over the years due to the numerous injuries.  He still employs an advanced patient approach at the plate, solid pitch recognition, he has a really good idea of the strike zone, and knows when to be aggressive too.  Throw in some really explosive plus bat speed and he has everything in place to be a high-average hitter someday.  That special bat speed gives him long-term above average power potential too, especially to the pull-side, even though he isn't a huge physical specimen.  He is very strong, however, and shows powerful quick-twitch wrists.

Base Running and Speed. There was a time when Heathcott could have been considered a plus-plus runner in his younger days and perhaps the three knee surgeries he's had over the years have caused him to lose a step but he still remains a plus runner overall speed-wise.  However, he's always been a little erratic on the base paths, sometimes a little too aggressive taking the extra base and other times not nearly aggressive enough stealing bases.  Even though he has the natural speed to easily be a 40-plus stolen base threat he is still very much a neophyte swiping bases.  He still has a lot to learn reading pitchers' moves to limit the base running mistakes but his gaffes will have nothing to do with his top-notch speed. 

Defense. Heathcott is a Gold Glove caliber defensive player at all three outfield positions, plain and simple.  His plus speed gives him plus range, he shows innate instincts out in the field, and despite two shoulder surgeries he still possesses plus arm strength.  He is a premium defensive centerfielder who can slide into the corners seamlessly too.  About the only weaknesses in his defensive game are toning down his aggressive style of play in the name of staying healthy [he often times throws his body around with wreckless abandon to make every potential play] and making accurate throws; sometimes he'll overthrow people trying to make the incredible throw when the smarter play is just hitting his cut-off man.  Still, few can match his physical defensive abilities so his occasional over-play is very forgiveable, especially when he plays all-out on every play.

Projection. Heathcott has long been one of the higher-ceiling prospects not just in the Yankee farm system but in all of baseball and it's because of his freakish athletic ability.  With plus speed, plus defense, plus arm strength, above average power potential, and a natural feel for hitting he is a true five-tool player with not only the ceiling of a starting big league outfielder but one with real All Star potential.  With his defensive outfield versatility and small-ball abilities he has the floor of a big league reserve outfielder.  However, his tools are so special that he really should find a starting job at some point if he can stay healthy and that has been a dicey prospect to say the least.  With five surgeries in his rearview mirror and other nagging injuries to date [he had a quad injury last season] he simply hasn't been able to stay on the field on any consistent level.  If he can ever find consistent health there's no question he will be a difference-making player in every aspect of the game, especially with his all-out hustle and tireless work ethic.  He just needs to stay healthy.

ETA. N/A. We mentioned a year ago that Heathcott, despite not being on the 40-man roster at the time, would see his first big league action last season if he stayed healthy and he did exactly that.  The trade for Aaron Hicks this past offseason though has pushed Heathcott further down on the outfield depth chart for the time being so he is most likely destined for Triple-A Scranton again.  However, he will most likely be just one injury away from contributing in the Bronx again in 2016.  The Scranton-Bronx shuttle seems to be his most likely role this coming season.

Year Team AVG AB 2B HR RBI R BB SO SB OBP SLG OPS
2015 Yankees .400 25 2 2 8 6 2 5 0 .429 .720 1.149
2015 Scranton .265 260 7 2 27 25 18 61 6 .315 .343 .657
2015 Charleston .222 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .222 .222 .444
2014 Trenton .182 33 2 0 1 4 3 13 0 .250 .242 .492
2013 Trenton .261 399 22 8 49 59 36 107 15 .327 .411 .738
2012 Tampa .307 215 16 5 27 38 20 66 17 .378 .470 .847
2012 GCL Yankees .235 17 2 0 2 3 5 4 2 .409 .353 .762
2011 Tampa .600 5 0 1 1 2 0 1 0 .600 1.200 1.800
2011 Charleston .271 210 11 4 16 36 19 57 6 .342 .419 .761
2010 Charleston .258 298 16 2 30 48 42 101 15 .359 .352 .712
2009 GCL Yankees .100 10 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 .182 .100 .282

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