By now everybody knows the bad news. Jacoby Ellsbury is on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury and it's still not exactly clear how serious it is. Given how quickly he went from leaving the game to getting MRI'd to getting put on the DL, it stands to reason that it might be more severe than just a 15-day DL trip. Ellsbury is a key part of the Yankee offense, maybe THE key part, and he's the team leader in fWAR. Losing him for any amount of time is a blow. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that Ellsbury's injury created an opportunity for one of the farm system's more interesting stories. Roughly 6 months from being non-tendered, removed from the 40-man roster, and then re-signed in January, Slade Heathcott will come up to the show and get his chance to be a Major League ballplayer.
From 1st round draft pick to top organizational prospect to injury-prone bust, it's been a long road through the Yankee system for Heathcott since he was drafted. That road was filled with starts and stops and makeup concerns and health concerns, and it seemed as though it was destined to end in unspectacular fashion when he was NT'd last November. From strictly a story standpoint, this is an easy one to latch onto if you're a Yankee fan.
What will this move result in from a baseball standpoint? Tough to say. Heathcott started the season on fire in Triple-A, slashing .329/.386/.443 with 5 XBH, 10 R, and 11 RBI in 19 April games. He's slowed down considerably this month, hitting just .236/.276/.264, and his limited upper-level experience could make him more prone to getting overmatched by good Major League pitchers. That said, he does still have respectable bat speed, legit pop, and the speed/athleticism element to his game that should help closely approximate Ellsbury's value in the outfield and on the basepaths. If he can manage to not be overly aggressive at the plate and square up some fastballs, maybe he could closely approximate Ellsbury's production at the plate for 15 days.
Whatever happens, it's cool for Heathcott that he gets a chance to come up and play some big league ball for a little while. A guy who's had the problems he's had in his MiL career deserves that. I'm sure other people are already getting into the nitty-gritty of how he'll fit into the lineup, but for now I'm happy to just enjoy the story.