Finding Comps for Yankees Prospects: Slade Heathcott

Derek and I ranked outfield prospect Slade Heathcott as our #5 prospect this offseason and gave him an anticipated MLB ETA of 2014. Here’s what we had to say about him:

Heathcott may have the highest upside of any Yankees’ prospect, but may also be the riskiest of the bunch. He’s had his issues staying healthy, and didn’t do anything overly impressive in Double-A (104 wRC+). Just added to the 40-man, there’s a decent chance he sees some time as a September call-up.

Using only Heathcott’s 2013 stat line, I compiled a list of comps — players who put up similar numbers (BB%, K%, and ISO) in the Eastern League at a similar age.

This analysis cuts right to the bottom line — it considers what a player did in his most recent year and churns out a list of players who performed similarly. There are some obvious limitations to this approach. For one thing, it only considers a hitter’s offensive performance and completely ignores defensive position and ability, so some of the comps will have very different defensive profiles. Additionally, this analysis only considers 2013 stats and does not take into account a player’s performance from previous seasons. Finally, in no way does it take into account things like scouting reports, which provide insight into a player’s future performance. Still, this gives us some living, breathing examples of players with similar offensive track records and hopefully gives us an idea of some possible career trajectories.

For reference, a center fielder with average defense who posts a 100 wRC+ is worth about 2.5 WAR over a full season — good enough to be a starter, but not a star. The more similar comps are at the top of the list:

Player PA’s Triple Slash wRC+
Lee Evans 0 N/A N/A
Daniel Fields* 0 N/A N/A

0 N/A N/A
Edgardo Baez 0 N/A N/A
Marcos Vechionacci 0 N/A N/A
Julio Ramirez 103 .167/.216/.229 14
J.R. House 63 .167/.206/.367 46
Clarence Myers 0 N/A N/A
Erick Almonte 144 .233/.282/.331 63
Justin Knoedler 63 .111/.158/.111 -32

*Active with at least a reasonable chance of  playing in the majors some time in the future

Unsurprisingly, Heathcott’s pedestrian 2013 returns a very disappointing list of players. Literally every comp listed amounted to nothing more than Triple-A fodder. Still, the fact that Heathcott managed not to embarrass himself at Double-A speaks to his raw physical talent. Thanks to a multitude of injuries, he’s been playing catch-up on his minor-league development for years now and has missed something like two season’s worth of games since he was drafted out of high school back in 2009.If he can stay on the field this year, it will be interesting to see what he can do in a full season in 2014. The other projection systems see a little more upside in Heathcott:

Davenport:

Brandon Short: (still in minors)

David Espinoza: (career minor leaguer)

Trayvon Robinson: (70 wRC+)

Brandon Moss: (113 wRC+)

PECOTA:

Trayvon Robinson: (70 wRC+)

Kirk Nieuwenhuis: (88 wRC+)

Austin Jackson: (107 wRC+)

ZiPS:

Lloyd Moseby (103 wRC+)

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