Once considered the top outfield prospect in the New York Yankees farm system if he could just stay healthy, Trenton Thunder outfielder Slade Heathcott’s second season at the Double-A level is officially over after just nine games.
After suffering a mysterious injury at the end of May while on the road in Reading, rumors quickly swirled that the former first-round pick had suffered another knee injury, despite no obvious limp when spotted in the Thunder clubhouse and training room during the following homestand. It was soon reported that Heathcott would be undergoing a scope on his knee, though he refused to talk about the injury immediately after being placed on the disabled list.
“I have no comment on that right now,” Heathcott had told me of his injury one day after being placed on disabled list.
“It is what it is,” Heathcott added when asked directly if it was the knee yet again. “We just have to figure it out and go with it.”
Initial timetables for Heathcott’s return were projected as six weeks or so, but Yankees VP of Baseball Operations Mark Newman indicated to Chad Jennings of The Journal News that the injury would cost the outfielder the remainder of the after having his knee scoped. Worse yet, Newman also confirmed that the injury is related to the meniscus tear and patellar tendinitis which ended his 2013 season prematurely.
“We’re hoping he’ll get healthy,” Newman said. “Beyond that, I don’t really have expectations now. He’s had a hard time staying on the field. He works at it, so we’ve got that going for us.”
Heathcott did not appear to be playing at the same level during his brief stint with the Thunder this season that he had been at the year before. Typically one of the most aggressive players on the field, Heathcott appeared to be playing much more conservatively and at far less than 100 percent from the first time he put on a Trenton uniform in May until bowing out of batting practice with the injury.
The 23-year-old outfielder hit just .182 (6-for-33) with a pair of doubles and four runs scored in his short stint with the Thunder. With a 40-man roster spot and a ton of talent, Heathcott projects to open next season with the Thunder as he looks to re-establish himself as a top prospect in the Yankees system.