Slade Heathcott hit a homerun in yesterday’s game for the Trenton Thunder. It was his first homerun of the season after being the recipient of tons of hype and attention during spring training. The hype was deserving, as he looked like a player who had really progressed over the past year. He still looks like that player, but needs some time to adjust after a slow start to the season in Double-A. After his big day yesterday his season line stands at .191/.282/.294/.576.
A fierce competitor, Slade will undoubtedly work tirelessly until he finds his way again. Yesterday was a step in the right direction. Heathcott is not going to be held down for long, and if history is any indication he can explode at any moment during the season and the slow start will be long forgotten. We’re talking about a guy who has improved every aspect of his game every season so far as a pro. Don’t expect him to stop now.
Most know about Heathcott and his fantastic tools and top 100 prospect status, but there’s a lot more to him than just baseball.
BBD: First things first, just to break the ice, what song will you be coming out to this season?
Slade Heathcott: “I havent fully decided but I think I’m gonna go with Timmy Thomas.”
BBD: What specific things did you work on this offseason?
SH: “Took off for a while, got back into things in January, just trying to find my swing again which I’m still working on. Just trying to stay healthy and stay strong.”
BBD: What about your game has improved the most since becoming a Yankee?
SH: “Probably just knowing how to play the game the right way. When I first signed I had no idea how to play the game the right or wrong way. It was just learning how to be smarter and play right.”
BBD: What was your reaction to being drafted by the Yankees in the first round?
SH: “Obviously it was exciting. Having the chance to play professionally was awesome. When I was drafted it was a great feeling. It was a great blessing and I didn’t even realize it until a couple of years later. The Yankees are one of the best organizations in the world and it’s great to have the opportunity to play for them.”
BBD: What’s the first thing you bought with your signing bonus?
SH: “I went out and got a truck and did some stuff to it.”
BBD: What kind of truck was it?
SH: “It was an F250”
BBD: Who was your favorite athlete growing up, any sport?
SH: “Probably Josh Hamilton. He was later but he has been a big role model of mine just because of his story, the things that he’s gone through and what he stands for.”
BBD: What’s you’re biggest strength as a player?
SH: “I dont know if its a strength but just the way I play and how hard I play. I just think that’s how it should be done and I take a lot of pride in playing hard.”
BBD: What’ your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
SH: “I guess just whatever I’m in the mood for. I like to just relax, watch movies, play call of duty, it just depends.”
BBD: What do you do to pass the time on road trips?
SH:” I listen to books, go on the Iphone, watch the movies we watch or read a book.”
BBD: What has been the best moment so far in your career as an athlete?
SH: “Probably signing and being drafted by the Yankees.”
BBD: Who is the best player you’ve played with so far in your career?
SH: “Oh that’s a tough one. I don’t know there’s been quite a few. I would put Tyler Austin really high with the ceiling he has. He’s a really good hitter and baseball player, but there’s so many guys I’ve played with who are so talented it’s just hard to say.”
BBD: Hardest thing about adjusting to Double-A?
SH: “I can’t tell if there’s a big difference yet. The game is a bit faster. Right now just trying to figure out my approach and I haven’t figured that out yet, but it will come with time.”
BBD: What measures have you taken to stay healthy this season?
SH: “It’s mostly just offseason lifting programs, the way I eat and things like that. Not that I eat that healthy. It’s just always staying stretched out and working on my flexibility as much as possible.”
SH: “You know just one of those things that happens in the game. Christian told me a couple of weeks before that he was gonna have me hit. He approached me before the game and told me he was gonna have me hit. I said that’s fine but my problem is with you and you don’t tell peple you’re gonna hit them. I’m not gonna sit there and take it.I was standing up for myself and my team, you don’t just tell people you are gonna hit them.”
BBD: Sounds like he got what he deserved. In Spring Training this year, what player did you connect with most and what was the best piece of advice you received?
SH: “I didn’t ask too many questions. Overall it’s just watching the guys and how they handle themselves and they’re really humble. Seeing Jeter and Pettitte and Mo was great. I would say I connected most with Mo and talking about off the field stuff. The things he had to say were really good to hear.”
A few things struck me in this interview. First of all apparently Yankees prospects like trucks, in particular Ford trucks. More importantly, Slade comes off as an honest dude. He’s not going to bounce around and avoid questions, and he’s going to give you a direct answer. He’s a proud player and he really believes in playing the game hard. There are plenty of players out there like that but few are as talented as Heathcott. It could take him far.
There is little doubt that Heathcott will finish the season with a better quadruple slash than .191/.282/.294/.576. He’s just way too good of a hitter to finish anywhere near that. His athleticism and excellent fielding could make him one of the most valuable players in the league someday if he is able to put it all together. There isn’t a single player in the Yankees system with a higher ceiling than Slade Heathcott, so that makes him one of the most exciting prospects to keep track of throughout the season.
Good luck to Slade this season and Thanks for granting me this interview. The Thunder play tonight at 7:05 in Trenton with Jose Ramirez on the mound. Slade will look to build on yesterday’s performance to get the ball rolling on the 2013 season.