Slade Heathcott and Tyler Austin have several things in common. Most notably, they’re among the top prospects in the New York Yankees organization. Both are outfielders with the potential to become elite hitters. Each has an interesting back story.
They are also different. The 21-year-old Austin swings from the right side and came into the season with a .331 average, and 23 home runs, in 593 professional at bats. A 13th-round pick in 2010, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer while in high school. Heathcott is a left-handed hitter who was taken in the first round of the 2009 draft. Hampered by injuries, he has hit .275, with 12 home runs, in 755 at bats. The 22-year-old had a difficult home life and battled alcohol issues as a teenager.
Heathcott and Austin are now teammates with the Double-A Trenton Thunder. They discussed their development as hitters during an early-season visit to Portland. Also weighing in on their development was Trenton hitting coach Justin Turner. Scouting reports on the promising duo were supplied by Al Skorupa.
Justin Turner on Austin and Heathcott: “Both are extremely talented. They’re natural hitters with extremely quick bat speed. They have good balance. Like any hitters, they have to get good pitches to hit in order for those things to play.
“They’ve both had success. Tyler has a lot more at bats under his belt, even though he’s a [more recent] draft pick. Slade has battled some injuries. He was drafted in 2009 but is still under 1,000 at bats for his career. Slade did really well in the Fall League, which has kind of sped up his learning curve.
“Tyler maybe has a little more advanced approach, because of those extra at bats, but Slade isn’t that far off. They’re like One-A and One-B. You’d be pulling hairs to try to figure out which one is better at this point. They’re exciting young players — the sky is the limit — but they both still need to get at bats.
“It’s tough to compare them as far swing-path types of hitters. They both have the ability to get the ball in the air. They both have power. Tyler’s has played a little more as far as home runs. Pitch selection is a reason — he does a pretty good job of getting good pitches to hit — and that’s priority number one. It’s what we talk about the most. You’re only as good as the pitches you swing at. There are constant reminders to these guys that they need to get good pitches to hit.”
Slade Heathcott: “There are still things I haven’t locked in exactly, as far as what I want as an approach. Read the rest of this entry »