Heathcott homers in debut with Tampa

Former first-rounder records three hits, scores twice in rout

Slade Heathcott batted .271 with 19 extra-base hits for Charleston. (Mark LoMoglio/MiLB.com)

By David Heck / Special to MLB.com | June 29, 2011 7:57 PM

Slade Heathcott has called Tampa home since last offseason. Perhaps that's why he looked so comfortable in his debut with the Tampa Yankees.

The former first-round pick homered and scored twice as the Class A Advanced Yanks routed the Daytona Cubs, 10-3, on Wednesday.

"I'm happy any night I get some hits," said Heathcott, who came off the seven-day disabled list to play in his first game since June 13. "There's a long season still to go. I could be 0-for-4 tomorrow. I just try to figure out what works in each at-bat and go day to day."

MLB.com's No. 8 Yankees prospect started his Florida State League campaign with a bang, belting a leadoff homer off Brett Wallach in the bottom of the first.

"I was fouling [pitches] off, my timing was behind -- I was a little late on everything," Heathcott said. "I haven't seen any [in-game] pitching in about three-and-a-half weeks. He left a fastball up and out, and I got my bat head out there in time. It was just one of those reactions, had a good outcome."

Heathcott tacked on singles in his next two at-bats, coming around to score on a ground-ball single by catcher J.R. Murphy in the fourth. He grounded out and struck out in his final two plate appearances.

The center fielder was one of four Class A Charleston RiverDogs to be selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game, along with Murphy, first baseman Kyle Roller and pitcher Michael O'Brien. All four were promoted to Tampa after the All-Star break.

Selected with the 29th overall pick in 2009, Heathcott was batting .271 with 19 extra-base hits for Charleston this season. He was suspended for five games in mid-May following a bench-clearing brawl with Red Sox affiliate Greenville.

After playing 128 of his 131 pro games with the RiverDogs, he was pleased to be moved up a level.

"I was ready to get out of there," Heathcott said. "It's a great place to play, the fans are great. There was always great attendance and Charleston is really nice. But I didn't like hitting in Charleston very much. It was nice to get out of there.

"I moved out here [to Tampa] right at the end of last offseason. It's just somewhere I have some friends now, and my girlfriend's here. So I moved down here, and the Yankees complex is here."

Heathcott said he doesn't have any particular goals for his time in Tampa.

"Just play hard," he said. "That's the biggest thing. I can't really control anything else. It's something I try to incorporate every day. As long as I play hard, there's nothing else I can do. I can't have any regrets.

"I want to help the team whenever I can, whenever that may be. I have yet to be on a real winning team in pro ball, and that's always a goal I have. We'll see how that works out here."

Zoilo Almonte also enjoyed a strong game for the Baby Bombers, going 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Starter Brett Marshall (5-5) earned the win, striking out seven over five shutout frames.

Wallach (2-3) took the loss after surrendering eight runs on 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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