Heathcott And Williams And Austin, Oh My!
A reader emailed and asked which of the three, Top-100 Yankees outfield prospects I’d prefer. Instead of a reply, quick ranking and send, I decided to expand it into a newsletter piece since I’ve scouted the three, and everybody wants to know if any of the three will develop into “Bronx Bombers”.
Back in 2010, Slade Heathcott was the top draw on a weak Charleston roster. One of the easier scouts I’ve come across, Heathcott swung through a number of pitches before belting a line drive single to right field. On Defense, his routes to the ball were only so-so, but he had the athleticism and arm strength to stick. He was a fourth outfielder for me and a scouting contact who saw him around that time thought the same.
Maybe he’s a better prospect now, but there’s no denying Heathcott has an M.O. which will result in major prospect helium.
- He’s a Yankees prospect
- He’s known to have insane hot streaks
- He presents as uber-toolsy
By 22, most stars have already surfaced at the Major League level. It’s natural to want to give him a mulligan for missed time, but there’s no denying it negatively affects development. 952 plate appearances in three-plus professional seasons including the AFL? A consistently healthy player would be close to double that number.
Plus, the strikeouts…. 24.4% is the lowest strikeout percentage Heathcott has had when accumulating more than 200 plate appearances at a level. With his reputation as a streaky hitter, Heathcott has the ability to dominate the way he did in the Arizona Fall League (.388/.494/.612 in 83 plate appearances). In 2011, a smoking hot start was followed by a collapse. He finished the season with a .271/.342/.419 triple slash line at the level.
The high strikeout totals are the polar opposite of what a player with Heathcott’s skill set should be. The gap power/speed/strikeout profile leaves me thinking he’s more Drew Stubbs than impact talent, if that.
Mason Williams was having a terrific year before a fluke injury ended his season. At 21, he’s age appropriate for his expected level of play and is on pace to become an above average regular at the Major League level. Of the three outfield prospects, Williams has the best shot at being a 12-15 home run, 30 stolen base talent in his prime.
Plus, he’s a surefire center fielder leaving him with even more valuable in leagues where outfield positions matter.
The knock on Williams is he’s athletic and fluid in his baseball movements, but not strong. To believe in Williams is to trust he’ll add size without losing speed and athleticism which props up his all-around game.
Austin, the corner outfielder in the group, came out of nowhere to post a .322/.400/.559 triple slash line across three levels. Just 21, he’ll spend the 2013 season in Double-A and is ahead of schedule in his development. After scouting him last April, I compared him to Ryan Ludwick at the Major League level. While readers considered this a dig, I thought it was complementary considering Ludwick is a former All-Star with wRC+ of 114. He’s also a tick above average in the outfield.
For fantasy purposes, give me Williams, Austin and then Heathcott. In fact, keep Heathcott and we’ll call it even. I don’t believe in him enough to ever become a buyer. Austin is a strong own in deeper and A.L. only leagues, but not mixed formats with shallow keeper rosters — Ottoneu included. Williams is the only one worth owning in all keeper formats, although I’d prefer Anthony Gose or Aaron Hicks considering both are “toolsy” and closer to breaking through.
24 Jan 2014 / Mike Newman /
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