With the re-signing of outfielder Slade Heathcott – something that was inevitable after his removal from the Yankees 40-man roster, a play of sorts will open in Moosic, Pa., site of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Railroaders’ ballpark this spring.
The Off-Broadway hit could easily be called “Show Me in the Outfield,” and we are not looking for angels, but players to prove they can help the Yankees, perhaps as early as late in the 2015 season.
Members of the cast include the 24-year-old Heathcott, 23-year-old Tyler Austin and 25-year-old Taylor Dugas. Co-starring may be 30-year-old Adonis Garcia, but his time is running out.
All four, and possibly Ramon Flores, a member of the Yankees’ 40-man roster, who may go north with the big club or back to Moosic, face a season in which they need to show if they can play in the majors or not.
“There are questions about all four,” said a scout from a National League team. “Some guys really like them, while others are mixed.”
“This is the year they have to show they have the stuff to play in the major leagues.”
Heathcott is easily the most intriguing. The guy has so much talent it’s not funny. He can run like the wind, has a sweet swing with potential power and a throwing arm which well above average despite shoulder surgeries.
Everyone knows his past, living in his truck for part of his senior year at Texas High in Texarkana, Texas, and other incidents, but all that seems in the past. Religion and marriage have helped the man, and he can easily reclaim a spot on the 40-man roster if he can only stay heathy.
That has not been the case. It has been shoulders, knees, hamstrings, whatever. He had 444 plate appearances on 103 games at Trenton in 2013, batting .261 (104-for-399), but has played no more than 72 games in any other season since the Yankees signed him in 2009 at the 29th pick of that draft.
“I just want to stay healthy and contribute,” Heathcott said. “I know what I need to do.”
Aside from running into walls, be more consistent at the plate. He could, after playing only nine games last season, start at Trenton, but Scranton seems his spot.’
With Austin, the Yankees are looking for proof his wrist is fully healed and his power returns. The Georgia native finished strong at Trenton last season, batting .275 (109-for-396). He has not showed the power predicted since hit 17 homers in 2012.
“I really think it’s all coming back,” Austin said. “This is the best I have felt in years.”
A solid right-fielder, he’ll be performing for certain in Northeastern Pennsylvania, because a kid named Aaron Judge will be handling that position in Central Jersey. It is his tine it show he is healthy. He can also play first base in competent fashion.
Dugas jumped on the fast track in 2014, hitting .299 (105-for-351) between Trenton and Scranton. An eighth-round pick in 2012 out the University of Alabama, he can run down fly balls easily. He needs to become a bit better baserunner, as his plate management is excellent. If he is going to help the Yankees, he’s going too have to prove himself this season.
Many called for Garcia to be called up last summer. This is because the Cuban ex-patriot hit .319 (109-for-342) and nine homers in 86 games. He is a fair outfielder who will be 30 in April. He packs a bit of punch into his 5-foot-9, 190-pound frame. He will first battle for playing time in Moosic, depending on results.
And what for Flores, who was limited to 63 games by injury in 2014, batting .247 (58-for-235). He followed that up by hitting .347 (68-for-196) with Aragua in the Venezuelan League, helping his club to a playoff berth.
Scouts disagree on Flores. Some think his power will still develop – he only turns 23 in March – while others are not high on him at all.
Which is why, a man much younger than Garcia, is part of the “Show Me” group for 2015.