Yankees' Heathcott working on regaining form

Yankees' Heathcott working on regaining form

Yankees' Heathcott working on regaining form
Slade Heathcott knows the old saying about hard work paying off. Only lately, it hasn't quite played out that way.

Injuries, surgeries, personal and family issues have been a part of the Yankees prospect's life since high school. After an abbreviated season in Florida this summer, Heathcott is in Arizona with the Scottsdale Scorpions, looking for some consistency and normalcy.

On Tuesday, the hard work finally did churn out some results.

"I needed it, that's for sure," said Heathcott, New York's first-round pick in 2009. "I've been working on some stuff, but it's not easy to work through things when it's not working out for you. But I'm trying to stick with it and that's about it, we'll see."

Heathcott tripled twice and knocked home five runs in support of Bobby Cassevah's second win on Tuesday as Scottsdale crushed Peoria, 12-2, in the Arizona Fall League.

The 22-year-old outfielder went 4-for-5 in his most productive day of the fall -- he was just 7-for-35 (.200) with three RBIs coming into Tuesday's game.

"It was good. I hadn't had any good extra-base hits at all down here, so I'm just trying to figure things out and hit the ball hard," he said. "That's my goal every day, and if I can do that, I'm satisfied."

Heathcott struck out to start the game but bounced back with a two-run triple in the third inning before scoring on Ronny Rodriguez's double to give Scottsdale a 3-0 edge. He added an RBI single in the fourth, a run-scoring triple in the sixth and knocked home another run with a double in the eighth.

"Saturday, I felt comfortable in the box but didn't get any results," he said. "I'm kind of working on loading early and get my timing down and I just stuck with it today. We'll see how it works out, we'll see how tomorrow goes."

The Texas native appeared in only 65 Minor League games this season after coming back from his second shoulder surgery last winter. He's dealt with his share of adversity on and off the field over the years, but is still considered the Yankees' No. 5 prospect entering 2013.

"Basically, it's just good just to be here and play," Heathcott said. "I didn't get many games in this season, so being able to play in some now, it's good to face good talent and it's been good so far."

After a brief rehab with the Yankees' Gulf Coast League affiliate, Heathcott transitioned back to Class A Advanced Tampa, where he hit .307 with with five homers, 27 RBIs, 17 steals and a .378 on-base percentage.

Now in Arizona, he's working on three main aspects of his batting mechanics.

"I'm trying to work on my load and the way my front foot lands in the box," he said. "I'm trying to get a little softer landing so I'm staying back a little better. And also my body posture."

Heathcott, a South Atlantic League All-Star in 2011, is hoping to harness the raw talent that made him both a two-sport star in high school and the Yankees' top selection four years ago. Despite the hurdles of the past, he's optimistic in Arizona and for 2013.

"I know where I'd like to be," he said of next season. "But it depends where they put me, so I have no idea."

Cassevah, a right-hander who has pitched in the Majors each of the last three seasons with the Angels, allowed three hits over five scoreless innings to win for the second time in four starts. The 6-foot-3 Florida native, who walked one and threw 41 of his 68 pitches for strikes, has allowed just one earned run in 16 innings with Scottsdale this fall.

"He throws well, he's a good pitcher from what I've seen so far," Heathcott said. "The few times I've seen him, he's been really solid, so it was good seeing that, he's a great guy."

Rodriguez (Indians) had three RBIs and Gift Ngoepe (Pirates) went 3-for-4 with four runs scored an another knocked in for Scottsdale.

Robbie Erlin (Padres) started for Peoria and allowed three runs on three hits and two walks over three innings to suffer his first loss. He struck out four.

Cory Spangenberg, San Diego's top selection in the 2011 Draft, went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Peoria in the loss.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.