Baseball America periodically takes a closer look at a prospect who is either just arriving to the majors or on the cusp of doing so, providing a look at what can be expected from them in real life and also for fantasy purposes.
With the loss of ace Jose Fernandez, the Marlins have a rather large hole to fill not only in their rotation, but also in the department of buzz factor.
Lefthander Andrew Heaney, the ninth overall pick in 2012, could help on both counts. He reached Double-A Jacksonville about a year after signing out of Oklahoma State, earning a recent promotion to Triple-A New Orleans, where he made his first start last Thursday (5 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO).
According to Marlins president of baseball operation Michael Hill, Heaney nearly made a larger leap.
“He was definitely in consideration, as was Brian Flynn," Hill told mlb.com after Miami promoted Anthony DeSclafani to the majors. “We looked at all of our upper-level pitching. When we got the news (about Fernandez), we really couldn’t re-shift rotations to make someone available.”
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound lefthander has easy velocity. This season, Heaney’s fastball has been clocked at above-average velocities with late life, sitting a comfy 91-92 mph and touching 96. His slider has shown better depth and is a plus pitch. His changeup has been a vital weapon for him and continues to be a plus pitch.
He has above-average command and control of all three pitches—with a SO/BB ratio of 4.0 this season. He has made strides in all aspects of his game, such as holding runners and tempo, but the true test will come in the majors. Heaney still has just 175 pro innings to his name—an oblique injury sidelined him for a time in 2013—but he did log 251 innings in his three years in Stillwater, Okla.
His maturity and his frame suggest he's ready to make at least a few token major league appearances, and one Marlins executive said the team is “very excited about his future.”
What To Expect
It's unclear when or for how long Heaney would remain in Miami when he arrives.
"There's been a lot of speculation about when he'll get to Miami," Marlins vice president of player development Marty Scott told the New Orleans Advocate, "but we don't really have a timetable on that.
"We would like (a big league callup) to happen before the season is over, but we want to do what's best for his development."
Heaney likely won't burst onto the scene a la Fernandez, but with his solid velocity, at-least-average command and nasty slider, the lefthander could have solid impact, both for the Marlins and fantasy owners, especially in the NL East, where powerful lineups are lacking and the parks generally favor pitchers.
The Marlins say Heaney has shown more mound savvy this season and that his slider is back-footing righthanders more than it had previously.