Exit Interviews: Deunte Heath
By James Fegan
“What are we doing here?” // Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
These “exit interviews” will be going over the entire 40-man roster and looking to see how each player does or does not fit into the White Sox future.
The term “exit interview” is usually used when an employee is leaving the company. I took that into consideration…and kept it.
Here’s Deunte Heath: because if I start skipping guys, when does it end?
Deunte Heath – Right-handed adult male
Age by 2014 Opening Day: 28
Contract: Still on that long road to his first year of completed service time.
Relevant stats: MLB: Five games in relief, 7.2 IP, 8 H, 11.74 ERA, 2 HR, 3 K, 12 BB, 0.25 K/BB, 38 ERA+
Triple-A: 30 games (one start for some reason), 45 IP, 36 H, 2.20 ERA, HR, 36 K, 14 BB, 2.57 BB
Interpretation: Absolutely disastrous stints with the big club are one thing, but Heath didn’t even dominate Triple-A in an encouraging way this year. No one thinks a disappearing strikeout rate is a cool trick.
Emblematic split: Everything major league hitters put in play off Heath was absolutely cooked. Five of his eight hits allowed went for extra bases.
Pre-season expectations:I apparently have an exhaustive list of prototypes for players in my head.
"“He’s your prototypical guy who’s earned the promotion with performance, but lacks scouting-based excitement.”"
Is that a prototype people think of? It’s basically a Quad-A distinction, but that’s more often levied on hitters. Basically it was hard to object to Heath getting a promotion, but two shades harder still to get excited about his presence.
Quote of the year: They really have not been stacking up the Deunte Heath quotes since he was arrested for attempting to solicit prostitution from an undercover police officer in 2010. Robin Ventura at least had to say his name six times for each transaction. That got his name in the paper.
Deunte’s story: Forgive Deunte for not establishing a rhythm right off the bat. He was 26th player to put on a White Sox uniform on the season when management decided to ride with an eight-man bullpen for a few days after Gordon Beckham‘s hamate injury, and stayed around just long enough for a single appearance against the Indians (A loss, of course). Yan Gomes hit the first pitch he threw out 415 feet to center, two extremely loud flyouts followed, and the tone was set for the year.
Heath was optioned after five days with the club, but recalled again on April 28. After another disaster on the night he was recalled, Heath recorded his only scoreless big league outing on the season.
Then he rode the pine for two weeks.
When there was another pre-ruined game for Heath to harmlessly burn down, he walked three batters in an inning (one intentional) and was sent down five days later, where he would actually have a month to settle in at Triple-A before being called up again in June. That gave him the opportunity to grab one more appearance and be the difference in a 7-4 loss where he walked four over two innings.
Heath would entrench himself in the Charlotte bullpen for the rest of the year, but by the time September call-ups rolled around, his mediocre strikeout totals made it easy to pick players who hadn’t been milling about in the minors for seven years ahead of him. It’s a tiny sample, but the radar guns in the big leagues had Heath sitting a mile slower than last year with his fastball. Yet another negative.
Assessment: He survived the initial purge of Brian Omogrosso, Ramon Troncoso and Bryan Anderson, but it’s hard to pick out anyone with a weaker case to stay on the 40-man than Heath. The only pitchers on staff as old or older than him massively outpaced him in MLB innings, the minor league performance took a step back and suspicions about his stuff’s lack of viability at the top level were emphatically confirmed with a Mark Buehrle-like 6.9% swinging-strike rate.
Everything is trending wrong for Heath and there wasn’t much to get excited about in the first place. It might take a while for the motivation to force Heath off the 40-man to arrive, but he’ll have a hard time defending his case when it does.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan