Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Slade Heathcott, the man who would be Josh Hamilton, is no longer a Yankee prospect

Yesterday, the Yankees jettisonned two of their most ballyhooed prospects of this new "Troubled-Yankees Millennium:" Slade Heathcott and Jose Campos are now free to walk around the cabin. They can sign with any team they wish. And the Yankiverse can add two more names to its Legion of the Lost.

Campos came in the (in)famous Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda trade, and often was heralded as a key component, a secret steal by the Yankees. Like so many others, he seemed to throw too hard for his own good. He has been perpetually hurt.

But this morning, it's Zachary Slade Heathcott - age 24 - who deserves more than a eulogy printed in TRANSACTIONS agate.

The Yankees picked Heathcott in the first round of the 2009 draft, despite a family background seemingly stolen from an Elmore Leonard trailer trash novel. He grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas, with an alcoholic step-father and a ton of problems. At one point, when Heathcott was playing for the Charleston Riverdogs of the Atlantic Coast League, the local newspaper ran a magazine-length article about his troubled teenage years. It was a horror show. It outlined Heathcott's alcoholism, his homelessness - he lived his high school senior year in a truck - and an ugly rifle-standoff with his step dad. The night after the article ran, Heathcott attacked the opposing catcher and was suspended for a bunch of weeks. I've always wondered what that catcher said to him, when he prepared for the first pitch.

The line was that Heathcott was an incredible athlete - a great high school linebacker - but sort of nuts. He got drunk and a missed a plane, so the Yankees found him a counselor. Two years ago, he destroyed the Arizona Fall Instructional League - something Yankee fans should ponder when they fit this year's Arizona MVP Greg Bird for a Cooperstown plaque. But Heathcott was always crashing into a wall or flinging himself into the turf, crushing some new body part. Last year, after missing months due to knee surgery - he played a handful of games and then went back on the DL. Supposedly, he's found Jesus. Basically, he's lost the last two years.

Now, without an MLB contract, he is officially a scrap heaper, a former prospect. In many respects, he is remindful of Josh Hamilton, who bounced around in the Cinncinati system before being reborn in Texas. The Yankees could re-sign him. That depends on whether he has an advocate on the coaching staff. He might be better off somewhere else. The Yankees historically outbid other teams on ex-prospects, such as Yangervis Solarte and Zelous Wheeler. Trouble is, there's always a reason why they are ex-prospects. And the other grim truth about Heathcott is that, throughout his career, he has struck way too often.

So the Yankees have turned the page on Slade Heathcott. Another top draft pick is officially a bust. Next up is Cito Culver and, then, Dante Bichette Jr. This is - after all - the "Troubled Yankees Millennium." Get comfortable.

1 comment:

Alphonso said...

And the man responsible for these draft pick failures, Brian Cashman, gets rewarded with a new 3 year contract.

I wish I had worked for a company where failure and incompetence were constantly rewarded.