New York sports fans love athletes that give their all for the team and the game. A player that seems to risk their body and give 100% day in and day out has the ability to win the heart of fans in this great city, especially fans of the New York Yankees.
Brett Gardner plays that way, using his speed and athletic ability and combining that with an all out effort. Jacoby Ellsbury also plays that way.
Ellsbury left Tuesday night’s game and has landed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee. Taking his spot on the roster is outfielder Slade Heathcott.
The former first-round pick from Texas has the type of game to win over many Yankees fans.
Heathcott is a superb center-fielder with good speed, excellent range, and a strong throwing arm. His style of play has been described as many as “reckless”. Some will claim this is what has kept him from the big leagues, as injuries have derailed his development a bit, but the 24 year-old leaves nothing on the field.
Gardner has become a fan favorite in New York, and the youngster who plays a similar game, now has his chance to become a favorite in his own right.
“Slade plays a similar style to what Yankee fans have come to love in Brett Gardner,” says Matt Kardos of Rolling Thunder. “An all-out, pedal to the floor mentality at all times. Slade has better raw tools than Gardner, but in terms of style and build, they are extremely similar.”
This season, Heathcott is batting .285 with one home run and 17 RBI in 37 games for the Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders
Off the field, Heathcott has endured a lot. His childhood could be described as rough. His father spent time in prison and Heathcott was homeless for a time during his senior year of high school. The two-sport star developed a drinking problem at the age of 19 before turning his life around with the help of the Yankees organization and Alcoholics Anonymous.
His story is one of courage, determination, and faith. His play on the baseball field shares some of those same characteristics. Don’t expect this youngster to come in and smack balls over the fence time and time again. In fact, he will strike out, as he has throughout his career. However, you can be sure he will join the big club prepared to play.
That first time Heathcott lays his body out to make a catch, runs down a ball in the gap, or slams into the outfield wall making a catch, Yankees fans will see just how hard this young man plays baseball, taking the game, and life, one day at a time.