Zachary Slade Heathcott, 20, is a left handed centerfielder listed at 6-1 and 190-pounds. He was born in Texarkana, Arkansas on September 28, 1990. He was drafted in the first round, 29th overall, in the 2009 amateur draft.
At the time he was drafted there were whispers about character issues, but those appear to have been overblown and didn’t even involve him. Instead it was some issues surrounding his parents and their relationship problems. Since being drafted, Heathcott has been a model citizen and nothing at all has been reported on him being troublesome.
Heathcott signed late and was recovering from surgery he had in November of his senior year of high school, but he still managed to get into three games in the Gulf Coast League in 2009. He managed to go just 1-for-10 in those games, but between that and instructs he impressed many scouts and those within the Yankees.
His tools were all there, but the Yankees still held him back in extended spring training in 2010 probably due to his young age, 19, than anything else. The Yankees also believed he was still quite raw to start the season in a full season league. He did eventually get promoted to Low-A Charleston in the beginning of June.
Things didn’t exactly go great for Heathcott in Charleston, but considering his raw talent and age they could have gone worse. Things did pick up in July as he hit .282 with a .749 OPS that month. Over the full course of the season he hit .258 with a .712 OPS and 21 extra base hits over 298 at bats.
After the season ended Heathcott had labrum shoulder surgery. It was from an injury that he had played through during the season. He should be ready by spring training in 2011.
The reason why Heathcott ranks so highly on prospect lists is not because of the underwhelming numbers he’s put up during his short time in the minors. It’s because he is a guy who has four tools, with the ability to develop some power, who looks sure to stick in center field.
His has plus bat speed and swing mechanics. This gives scouts reason to believe he could be a .300 hitter eventually and is the reason they think he could develop power even though he as displayed little to this point.
He’s also a good defender who is said to have a strong first step. Couple that with a strong arm and he is expected to be a plus defensive outfielder who will have no problem sticking in center field.
He’s fast too. Not Brett Gardner fast, but he could be a guy who swipes 30 or more bags a year.
Heathcott will be in Single-A again in 2011 it’s just a question of whether he will be in Low-A Charleston or High-A Tampa. He’s still raw and he’s recovering from shoulder surgery still, but the Yankees have a few center field prospects behind him in Mason Williams and Angelo Gumbs that could push him into High-A Tampa, but that is still to be seen.
Just 20-years-old Heathcott is probably at least three years from the majors at best so 2011 is certainly not a make or break year for him. It will be interesting to see how big an impact, if any, his shoulder had on him last year.
His potential seems to be a .300 hitting outfielder, who has 20 home run power, a 30-40 stolen base threat, all with great defense at a prime position. Again, he’s probably three years away from the majors at best though so he’s one to watch.