Heathcott with the Trenton Thunder in 2013
|San Francisco Giants – No. 78|
September 28, 1990 |
|May 20, 2015, for the New York Yankees|
(through 2015 season)
|Runs batted in||8|
Zachary Slade Heathcott (born September 28, 1990) is an American professional baseball outfielder with the San Francisco Giants organization. Heathcott was a first-round draft pick by the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball out of Texas High School in the 2009 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut in 2015, and was released in 2016.
Zachary Slade Heathcott was born in Texarkana, Texas. His mother, Kimberly, became pregnant with Slade while a teenager. Her relationship with Slade's biological father ended soon thereafter, and she married Jeff Heathcott, who adopted Slade. Jeff was arrested and convicted for forgery. The couple divorced while Slade was in high school. Kimberly relocated with Slade's younger brother, Zane, to Alexandria, Louisiana, while Slade remained in high school, attending Texas High School in Texarkana, Texas. Heathcott spent his senior year of high school living out of his truck.
At Texas High, Heathcott starred for the baseball and American football teams. An outfielder and pitcher for the baseball team, Heathcott led Texas High to the state's Class 4A baseball championship in his senior season. He appeared in the Aflac All-American Game and committed to attend Louisiana State University on a baseball scholarship. For the football team, Heathcott played linebacker.
Heathcott was drafted by the New York Yankees in the first round, with the 29th overall selection, of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft. Louisiana State withdrew their scholarship to Heathcott and he signed with the Yankees, receiving a $2.2 million signing bonus. He reported to the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to make his professional debut. He played for the Charleston RiverDogs of the Class A South Atlantic League (SAL) during the 2010 season, where he had a modest .258 batting average and struck out 101 times. Heathcott required offseason shoulder surgery. Returning to Charleston in 2011, he improved his batting average to .297 in his first 47 games, and was named to the SAL all-star team. He was promoted to the Tampa Yankees of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League that June. He played in one game for Tampa before missing time with a shoulder injury. He had surgery, and missed the remainder of the season.
Recovering from his injury, Heathcott played for the Tampa during the 2012 season. After the 2012 season, he played in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He was named week four's player of the week. The Yankees invited Heathcott to spring training in 2013. Playing for the Trenton Thunder of the Class AA Eastern League in 2013, Heathcott compiled a .261 batting average, eight home runs, and 49 runs batted in (RBIs) in 103 games played.
Heathcott was added to the Yankees' 40-man roster after the 2013 season to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft. He underwent knee surgery during the offseason. In 2014, Heathcott played in nine games for the Thunder before his knee injury returned, which required surgery and ended his season. During the offseason, the Yankees opted not to tender Heathcott a contract. Within two days of his non-tender, 15 teams reached out to Heathcott's agent.
Heathcott and the Yankees agreed on a minor league contract where he would be paid $110,000 instead of the expected $72,500 salary and an opt-out set for July 1 in case the Yankees had not readded Heathcott to the 40-man roster. On January 6, 2015, the Yankees re-signed Heathcott to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He won the James P. Dawson Award, given each year to the best rookie in spring training. Healthy to start the season, Heathcott was assigned to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders of the Class AAA International League. He batted .285 with 17 RBIs in his first 37 games. Following an injury to Yankees' center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the Yankees promoted Heathcott to the majors on May 20, 2015. He made his MLB debut that day, and received his first start on May 22. He hit his first MLB home run on May 25 against the Kansas City Royals. After batting .353 (6-for-17) with a home run and three RBIs in six games for the Yankees, Heathcott went on the disabled list when an MRI diagnosed him with a strained quadriceps femoris muscle. The Yankees activated him from the disabled list and optioned him to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on July 31. The Yankees promoted Heathcott after the end of the RailRiders' season on September 12. In his first at-bat after the promotion, Heathcott hit a game-winning home run against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Heathcott began the 2016 season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He batted .230 before suffering a knee injury, and went on the disabled list. As the Yankees also had left-handed outfielders Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Jake Cave, and Dustin Fowler in their farm system, the team released Heathcott on May 26, 2016. He was signed to a Minor League contract by the Chicago White Sox on June 14, 2016.
During his junior year of high school, Heathcott was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and got kicked off the baseball team for poor academic performance. He also admitted to pointing a 12 gauge shotgun at his father during an argument.
The Yankees found out about Heathcott's alcohol problem when he blacked out and lost his passport the night before he was to fly to the Dominican Republic. They introduced him to Sam Marsonek, who took Heathcott to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Heathcott credits finding religion with helping him to turn around his personal life.
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- Hatch, Ryan (May 25, 2015). "Yankees' Slade Heathcott on 1st career home run: 'Is this real?'". NJ.com. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
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- Jennings, Chad (May 26, 2016). "Yankees release outfield prospect Slade Heathcott". The Journal News. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
- Weisberger, Jed (December 4, 2015). "Heathcott's Career Is Worth Salvaging". Pinstriped Prospects. Retrieved May 20, 2015.