Archive for Slade Heathcott
We’re all focusing on the big league team right now, but Chad Jennings took some time to check in with VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman about some minor league business. I suggest heading over and reading the whole thing, but the important stuff I want to highlight are the injury updates…
- David Adams is still rehabbing from that brutal ankle injury he suffered in May 2010, and he’s scheduled to arrive in Tampa for early Spring Training work next month. The Yankees added Adams to the 40-man roster last month, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft.
- Slade Heathcott figures to be behind other position players in Spring Training as he rehabs from his second left shoulder surgery in as many years. It’s his third left shoulder injury since 2009, his senior year of high school, and they’ve limited him to just 132 games over the last 2+ seasons. They’re a very real problem.
- J.R. Murphy is 100% ready to go after missing the end of last season due to a foot/ankle injury suffered when he apparently fouled a pitch off himself. Newman says he will “predominantly” catch in 2012, as he should given the significant improvement in his defense.
- Remember Jeremy Bleich? The Yankees highest signed pick from the 2008 draft hasn’t pitched since May 2010 due to major shoulder surgery, and Newman says he’s still rehabbing.
Yesterday we talked about Baseball America’s lists of the top tools in the big leagues, and today they released their lists for Triple-A, Double-A, and Single-A (subs. req’d). Not too many Yankees farmhand made the cut, only Brandon Laird (best defensive 3B), Ramon Flores (best plate discipline), and Slade Heathcott (best defensive outfielder) took home honors at their respective levels. Jesus Montero got beat out by Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox) for top power prospect, Dellin Betances by Henderson Alvarez (Blue Jays) for best fastball, Manny Banuelos by Eric Surkamp (Giants) for best changeup, and Gary Sanchez by Bryce Harper for best power prospect. Seems like the Yanks have a lot of guys that would rank second, third, or fourth in the various categories rather than first.
Via Josh Norris, Slade Heathcott has missed most of the last month or so with a left shoulder issue, and it’s likely that he’ll miss the rest of the season. He had surgery on the shoulder this past offseason, and apparently a second surgery is possible. That’s his throwing arm, by the way. That really sucks. Nik Turley, meanwhile, will miss about a month with a broken hand. Line drive got him. He’s already over his previous career high in innings, so the rest might not be the worst thing in the world. Too bad it’s not by choice.
Need some good news? Donnie Collins says that Tim Norton is about a week or so from returning to the mound, which sounds hard to believe after the report of his labrum being severely torn and his career being in jeopardy. Mark Newman confirmed that he’s a week away, so it’s obvious the original injury report was wrong. Great news, Norton was having an absurdly dominant year.
- Right-hander Brian Anderson has been released. He had been on the Double-A Trenton disabled list with a biceps issue, though his performance when he did pitch was pretty good: nine strikeouts and just one walk in 7.1 IP.
- Mark Newman again said that Gary Sanchez is out with a “stiff lower back,” though he’s playing in Extended Spring Training. He is on the Low-A Charleston disabled list at the moment, and he’ll return there when healthy.
- Both Slade Heathcott (.376 wOBA) and J.R. Murphy (.385) will “probably” move up to High-A Tampa this summer. That’s a yes, though I was wondering if Heathcott’s brawl would slow down his schedule somewhat.
- Mark Prior is not throwing off a mound and is dealing with some kind of oblique/hip issue. Alan Horne (remember him?) is throwing in ExST, as is Brad Halsey. Graham Stoneburner, Jeremy Bleich, and Steve Garrison aren’t close to returning yet.
- David Adams is still having leg issues. It might be related to last year’s broken ankle, but the leg started bothering him after his one game played this year.
- When asked about who’s impressed in ExST, Newman responded with personal fave Bryan Mitchell. “He’s got electric stuff,” said Newman. “He’s got the stuff to be the next Banuelos, Betances. The high-end guy. That’s Mitchell.”
- Carlos Silva can opt out of his minor league deal in mid-June, so he could probably make another two or three or maybe even four starts for Triple-A Scranton before the Yankees have to make a decision about whether or not to call him up.
When the Yankees drafted Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 draft, they knew he was going to be a bit of a long-term project. Just about every high school player is, unless you’re getting a rare talent like Alex Rodriguez or Jason Heyward or Rick Porcello or Clayton Kershaw. These kids need time to develop their physical tools into actual baseball skills, a process that tends to be more painful than pleasant. In 117 career games coming into Thursday, Heathcott is a .274/.363/.388 hitter with 140 strikeouts and 58 walks in 537 plate appearances. He’s been much more productive this year, with a .307/.382/.477 batting line in 38 games played. The hit tool – the ability to actually get the bat on the ball and drive it with authority – was never much of a question for Heathcott though.
The graph above shows Heathcott’s cumulative strikeout and walk rates (expressed as a percentage of his plate appearances) from the start of the 2010 season through Wednesday’s game. You can see that after joining the Low-A Charleston River Dogs in early-June last year, Slade’s strikeout rate gradually climbed as the season went on, finishing at 29.2% of his plate appearances. The walk rate also increased throughout the season, settling in at 12.1% on the final day of the year. That was the ninth best walk rate in the league (min. 350 PA) and the second best by a teenager, so yeah, be impressed.
Heathcott has gotten the strikeout rate under control in 2011 as he unsurprisingly repeats the league. After peaking at 29.7% of his career plate appearances seven games into this season, it’s dropped all the way down to 26.6% thanks to his last 31 games (just 15 K in 138 PA, or 10.9%). The walk rate has been up and down this season, but it’s generally hovered right around that 11-12% mark for his career to date. The walks aren’t a problem at all (league average is about 8.5%, both in Single-A and MLB) and the strikeouts are becoming less of one. The South Atlantic League average is 20.4% strikeouts (17.6% in MLB, if you’re wondering), and although Heathcott is still well-above that mark, he’s steadily improved this year, especially over the last month or so.
Note: Just to be clear, the graph does not include Heathcott’s three game came with the rookie level Gulf Coast League Yankees or Thursday night’s game. Those 15 or so plate appearances don’t make much of a difference anyway.
Yeah, that doesn’t look so good. I figure the catcher had to have said something to him, maybe about yesterday’s article. Stuff like that about a first round pick gets around pretty quickly. Not making excuses for him, because that is total garbage right there and has no place in the game. Heathcott’s going to be suspended for a while, I just have no idea how long. My money’s on 5-10 games.
When the Yankees drafted Slade Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 draft, everyone knew the kid had a troubled past, but we didn’t really know what happened. The most popular rumor was that his parents were in jail for drug-related issues. Well, thanks to Gene Sapakoff of The Post & Courier, now we know what happened, and it’s far worse than I think anyone could have imagined. If you only read one thing on this site all day, this is it. Absolute must read.
NoMaas’ Gary Wallace sat down for a chat with 2009 first rounder Slade Heathcott, and the two discussed a sorts of aspects about his game. I found it pretty interesting that Slade has already abandoned the changes the Yankees made to his swing last year, going back to the way he hit in high school. It’s working obviously (.442 wOBA in 18 games), but he mentioned several times that’s he’s still searching for his swing and getting comfortable with it. Consistency is another big thing for him, trying avoid so many peaks and valleys throughout the season. Make sure you head over and check it out, that’s some great stuff right there.
According to his Facebook status, 2009 first rounder Slade Heathcott is having surgery on some unknown body part for some unknown reason. It’s worth noting that he did go under the knife to repair a torn ACL in high school, and he also missed a bunch a time after injuring his shoulder diving for a ball in the outfield. Hopefully it’s nothing major and has nothing to do with the knee again; the last thing you want a speedy centerfielder type to develop is knee problems. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready for Spring Training.
Baseball America recently ranked Heathcott as the 18th best prospect in the Low-A South Atlantic League, where they noted his all-out style of play. I’m jumping way ahead of myself, but it would be a shame if that keeps leading to injuries.
Update: According to one of Heathcott’s comments on FB, he’s out until at least February. So it wasn’t too serious. Hopefully he can start he season on time.
(h/t Andy in Sunny Daytona)
Chugging along with their annual prospect ranking series, Baseball America posted their list of the top 20 prospects in the Low-A South Atlantic League today. Just one Yankee farmhand made the cut, 2009 first rounder Slade Heathcott at #18. Former Yankee prospect Arodys Vizcaino came it at number six. I’m kinda disappointed that Jose Ramirez didn’t make it, but that’s life.
In the subscriber only scouting report, BA raved about Heathcott’s raw ability, noting his impressive speed, fast-twitch athleticism, patience at the plate, and “unrealized power potential.” They mentioned that his swing needs refinement to help him make more contact (duh), and that he could stand to improve his instincts to take advantage of his speed in center and on the bases. Slade was also compared to Lenny Dykstra for his all-out style of play. “I think he learned what kind of player he is this year,” said a rival league manager. “He needs a lot of polish, but there’s a lot to work with there.”
The next list that Yankee fans have to worry about involves the High-A Florida State League, but that won’t come out until next Wednesday. Dellin Betances is a lock for that one, while Bradley Suttle, Melky Mesa, Adam Warren, and Graham Stoneburner should garner consideration as well. Andrew Brackman might not have thrown innings with Tampa to qualify for the list.