Slade Heathcott was once considered the Yankees’ center fielder of the future, but after eight seasons in the organization the former 2009 first round draft pick out of Texarkana, Texas was released on Thursday to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
After missing out on Mike Trout in the 2009 draft, the Yankees took a chance on Heathcott, 25, who had a checkered personal background after admitting to pointing a shotgun at his stepfather and was previously kicked off his high school baseball team due to academic shortcomings.
To address his weakness with alcohol the Yankees appointed former pitching prospect Sam Marsonek to serve as a both a shadow and a mentor to Heathcott. Under Marsonek’s care, Heathcott discovered religion and slowly began to turn around his personal life.
Though Heathcott continued making individual strides to better himself, he was unable to translate those efforts to the field, as he missed considerable time with knee and leg injuries during each season in the organization despite showing promise in short spurts.
Heathcott’s ongoing battles staying on the field caused the Yankees to briefly non-tender him during the winter of 2014, but both sides eventually agreed to a restructured minor league contract.
Using his own doctors in Orlando to treat his injuries, Heathcott arrived at spring training in 2015 with a clean bill of health and proceeded to win the James P. Dawson Award as the top rookie in big league camp.
A blistering start to spring training earned Heathcott two shorts stints in the big leagues, where he hit .400 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 25 at-bats with the Yankees. Prior to his release, Heathcott batted .230 in 23 games with Triple-A Scranton this season and spent two separate stints on the DL, suffering injuries to his hand and knee.
Heathcott batted .265/.336/.387 in 399 career minor league games since making his professional debut as an 18-year-old in 2009 with the Gulf Coast Yankees.