Last week, three Yankees were named to Baseball America’s top-20 list for prospects in the Gulf Coast League. Earlier this week, the Yanks got shut out of the top-20 honorarium for New York-Penn League prospects due to the fact that their eligible players either joined the team’s affiliate too late to qualify or skipped NYPL play altogether.
Today, we learn that OF Slade Heathcott (Low-A, Charleston Riverdogs) has been named to Baseball America’s top-20 list of prospects for the South Atlantic League.
18. Slade Heathcott, OF, Riverdogs
Drafted: Yankees ’09 (1st Round/29th 0verall)
2010 Stats: 298 AB, 77 H, 21 XBH, 42 BB, 101 SO, .258/.359/.352
Regardless of how managers and scouts felt about Heathcott’s talent, they all agreed on one thing: he plays the game hard. A throwback player who attracted comparisons to Lenny Dykstra and Brett Gardner, he combines strength, speed and fast-twitch athleticism.
Heathcott’s most impressive tool is his speed, though he currently lacks the instincts to make the most of it on the bases and in center field. He shows some patience and unrealized power potential at the plate, but his swing needs a lot of work. His bat doesn’t stay in the hitting zone for long and he struck out 101 times in 298 at-bats. His arm strength is a plus.
“I think he learned what kind of player he is this year,” Mikulik said. “He needs a lot of polish, but there’s a lot to work with there.”
This scouting report is in line with what you’d expect from a raw, athletic youngster. There are clearly things that Heathcott has to improve upon next year and, I assume, he will be repeating Low-A again in order to refine his approach at the plate. Considering Heathcott signed late in 2009 and barely registered any time at the NYPL level, the Yankees clearly think highly enough of his talents that they let him play his first season of pro ball in the SAL instead of making him go back to Staten Island.
Separately, I’m disappointed to see that RHP Jose Ramirez or C/DH JR Murphy did not make the SAL list. In Murphy’s case, his first season of pro ball was somewhat underwhelming (.255/.327/.376) but scouts raved all season long about Ramirez’s (115 IP, 3.60 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 105 K) stuff. His exclusion is somewhat surprising.
The prospect lists for the Florida State (High-A) and Eastern (AA) Leagues will be released next Wednesday and Friday, respectively. I expect the Yankees will make some hay there.