Interview With Yankees Slade Heathcott

By: Chad Raines

Slade Heathcott has been a big name in the Yankees farm system ever since being drafted in the first round by the team in the 2009 Amateur Draft. It was dream come true for Heathcott as it came with signing bonus of 2.2 million dollars, and high expectations for the young 18 year old. Being a left-handed thrower and hitter, Heathcott has drawn comparisons to one familiar Yankee, Brett Gardner. Heathcott has shown flashes of possessing all five tools on the field. His only problem: injuries. Heathcott’s injuries from his shoulder, to his knee have tampered with his path to Pinstripes, as he has only played more than 100 games once in his career (103) which was in 2013.
 
Even with his injuries, Heathcott continues playing all-out, going as hard as he can on every play. Whether it’s running out a routine ground-out as hard as he can, to tracking down a ball in the gap in the outfield, Slade plays the game the “right way” and that is something that should be modeled by other players. Heathcott has managed to remain a .268 hitter in the minor leagues, a number that will likely go up barring a healthy season in 2015.

Despite Heathcott’s misfortune with his health, he has remained incredibly positive mainly credited to his renounced faith with God. Heathcott was kind enough to talk to us at the BBB and he without a doubt is one great guy. Heathcott gave us some powerful words that are truly moving for aspiring big-leaguers such as himself, to Little Leaguers, to non-athletes. I encourage you to read all of our questions (italicized) and his responses (bold) as they really hit home. Below is our interview with him!
1.      “What baseball team did you grow up liking and who was your favorite player? Why?”
“I didn't really have a team I followed. I liked watching certain guys play the game. In high school, I became a huge fan of Josh Hamilton. After being around Jeter the past couple years, Jeter has become by far my favorite player in the history of the game. Jeter is the real deal day in and day out. He is the most consistent person I have met, conducts his business the right way every single day, and shows respect to everyone. For these reasons I believe there will never be another Jeter, nor will there ever be a greater ambassador to the game of baseball.”
2.      “What came along with being the first round pick of the New York Yankees in 2009?”
“I think for me it showed to a lot of people my immaturity level when it came to decision making. Now looking back I am thankful for it all, without my immaturity then I would not be where I am now. I would not appreciate the little things in life. I would not realize the importance of respect, and most of all, the fact that we all need to be accountable to our actions.”
3.      “Have you seen American Sniper, and what are your thoughts on it”
“I have read the book, which is amazing! I have not gone to see the movie and probably will not for quite a while. Our service men and women strike really deep for me. I have trouble accepting that I am playing a game and men and women are giving their time, effort, and ultimately their lives for me to have that right, which is partly why I play the game the way I do, 100 percent. Some have said that is why I have been injured due to my reckless play but the fact is, I have never really been injured in a game. All my injuries are results of things just out of my control while training.” 
4.      “What do you enjoy doing outside of baseball?”
“I enjoy a lot of things about life, big or small. I enjoy leaning about new things, reading positive books, being in the outdoors doing anything, most importantly I believe that we need to give back. In order to be truly successful in all areas of life we need to help other people achieve their goals.”
5.      “How is the knee and how have you worked this offseason to ensure you are ready to go by the start of the season?”
“The knee feels better than it ever has since I injured it in Spring Training in 2013. I will be for the first time completely healthy entering camp, not only that but I am stronger and in better shape than I have ever been. I have done nearly 500 Personal training (PT) sessions in the past year and now for the past 4 months I have concentrated on the performance side of everything. I have completely changed my diet, my routines, and my lifestyle to better suit me playing 180 games a year. Though I have barely broke 100 games in one season, I also have not been healthy starting the season since signing. The most important thing is though, that mentally I couldn't be in better shape. I would not change a thing about the past because I would not have the same outlook on life as I do today and for that I am very thankful.”
6.      “Has the club indicated what your role is going to be this upcoming season?”
“Not necessarily, but as a Yankees we understand what each of our roles are to be and that is to go about each day the Yankee way which takes us back to why I think Derek Jeter is so amazing. We are to be the best ball player, the best teammate, show respect to everyone we interact with, and most importantly be the best husband, father, or friend that we can be while maintaining the Yankee code.”
7.      “Can you briefly describe what it’s like being a minor leaguer in the Yankees organization?”
“It's been a blessing; I have been introduced to a lot of the greats in the game. What has amazed me though is that they are not just greats on the field but also off the field. When we start to talk about Reggie, Jeter, Mo, Pettite, Posada, and the list can keep going but you see that these guys handle themselves with the utmost respect to everyone around them. They are all stupendous examples of leading by example, which could not be any better for young guys coming up in the system.”
8.      “What does the bible verse in your twitter bio (Colossians 3:23) mean to you and how do you apply it to your play on the baseball field?”
“(In whatever you do, do it with all your heart). That right there sums up how I view and how I try to attack each second of every day. In my opinion and belief none of us are entitled to anything, we all have to earn what we want in life. I know that every second I am on Earth it is a blessing. So with saying that, when it is time for me to go home I want to know in my heart I didn't waste one day, that every single day I became better at every facet of my life. My daily goal is to make every second as productive as I possibly can, without passing by all the small amazing things throughout the day. In addition to that, we have mothers, fathers, brothers and so on that are working endless hours with little sleep, little food, or not ideal situations with maximum effort day in and day out. Why should I not show them respect and do the same!”
9.      “How does your faith in God help you on and off the field?”
“God is my light in a very dark world. Without Him I would be lost, I wouldn't see how amazing life can and is each second of each day, and I would have a gap in my heart that can only be filled by our awesome creator.”
10.  “What is your mindset and philosophy as a hitter?”
“Right here, right now! Our past doesn't matter and we cannot control the future unless we control this second we are in. Every moment that we are in is the biggest moment of our lives because it defines our future. Winners find a way to succeed one way or another; I want to be a winner.”
11.  “What do you need to improve on to continue making strides towards Pinstripes?”
“The list would be endless. I will never be to a point in my life that I am good enough because I believe each day we can grow and become better. Though every day I am very content and just in awe of the world we are in. I mean we are on a rock floating in space with an invisible atmosphere that keeps just happens to keep us alive.”
12.  “What are you most looking forward to this season?”
“To be able to wake up each day and play the game I love. Not too long ago at all I wasn't sure I would ever be able to play the game of baseball again which made me really slow down and think about what is important in my life right now. It's just an amazing blessing to one, be able to play this game for a living and two, I have the ability to be a positive impact on the world we live in (which is my biggest goal in life). Now I do believe we all can be that but the fact is when I was young I wanted everything big leaguers did. Now I have the opportunity to be that for kids and adults alike. I have been a negative influence for most of my life; I now see what is really important to me. The fact that we are all here living together on this rock. We live in a world with so much division and separation, it took me 24 years to see what I believe is important in life and that is to just love people, in loving people you will help people!”
13.  “You’ve dealt with a lot of adversity as many athletes do, but how have you been able to remain positive through the good and bad times?”
“I never realized how negative I was towards life till this past year. I guess I felt like the world owed me something, I constantly strived to earn attention and acceptance from other, and I never saw the big picture in my life. I realized that I can make a choice right now to never have another bad day, to always see what opportunity lies in front of me. Romans 5:2-5 tells us that hard times produce endurance and in that great character will arise. My grandfather always told me that we are who our words are and until recently that never dug in. There are always going to be terrible things happen in the world but in my experience and testimony I have heard from others, there is always good to be found if [we] want to find it, trials always change our life and it can be for the better if we want it to be, and hard times often make us think about the lives we are living. With those things we can grow into the person God wants us to be. Everything in life has a purpose; we just have to decide what that purpose is going to be.”

Again, we really would like to thank Slade Heathcott for the awesome interview he did with us. As you can tell, he’s an extremely humble guy who certainly has his priorities where they need to be in order to succeed in the upcoming season. Slade is one open and cool dude and it was an absolute pleasure contacting him for this interview.

Slade, we wish you a healthy and successful season wherever it may take you! And of course, we really hope to see you in Pinstripes in the next coming seasons. If Heathcott can stay healthy, which he is determined to do, look for a breakout season from him in 2015.

Follow me on twitter @Chad_Rain
Follow Slade Heathcott on twitter @Heathcott_Slade

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