In the Arizona Fall League, a scout watched Slade Heathcott and compared him to a more athletic Todd Hollandsworth. That same scout thought Heathcott was the best player in the Fall League.
The 22-year-old Heathcott, a Texan, is in major league camp for the first time. When he speaks, he sounds like an outfielder cut out of the 1950s or '60. With a past that includes his own battle with alcohol, it makes sense that Heatchott says one of the players he looks up to is the late Mickey Charles Mantle.
"He played hard," Heathcott said. "He is from Commerce, Oklahoma, which is about 15 minutes from where my family is. The Commerce Cowboys, actually. Just the way he played. He was a five-tool athlete, a stud, did his best to handle things and came out on top. I like hearing that."
Heathcott said he has read two Mantle bios. "That's how I became of fan of his," Heathcott said.
Heathcott, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, is a ball of excitement as a player. In fact, the biggest knock on him might be that he plays too hard, which has resulted in two shoulder surgeries.
"What I like to say is I have to play a little smarter," said Heathcott, whom the Yankees selected with the 29th pick in 2009. "I'm never going to back off my game. I just need to learn what situations call for it and what situations don't. That's definitely something I'm working on."
Heathcott is slated to begin the year at Double-A Trenton, but he has a chance to skyrocket all the way to the Bronx at some point this season.