Heaney poised to give Marlins lethal top of rotation
Talented southpaw could join forces with Rookie of the Year Fernandez soon
As if having one of the most dominant pitchers in the game in right-hander Jose Fernandez is not quite enough, the Marlins will one day welcome the very talented left-handed Andrew Heaney to their rotation.
I was fortunate to watch many of Heaney's seven starts this fall as he pitched for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League. At only 22 years old, Heaney took total control of his outings, finishing among the AFL's pitching leaders.
After a very successful prep career at Putnam City (Okla.) High School, Heaney declined to sign a professional contract when Tampa Bay selected him in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.
Heaney elected to pitch for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He had an outstanding freshman year for the Cowboys, becoming the first freshman to lead the team in wins since 2001.
As a junior, Heaney went 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA over 118 1/3 innings. He had 140 strikeouts to lead the NCAA. As the Friday starter, scouts poured to Heaney's games in droves.
Considered to be one of the best pitchers available, the Marlins selected Heaney in the first round of the 2012 Draft. Heaney has skyrocketed in Miami's Minor League system, performing well at every level to which he has been assigned.
Heaney throws strikes. His command and control are advanced for his age and experience.
In August 2012, Heaney began his career pitching for the Marlins' Rookie League team in Florida. He started two games and fashioned a 2.57 ERA in seven innings.
By the middle of the month, Heaney was pitching for Greensboro in the Class A South Atlantic League. He threw another 20 innings, but the competition was a bit tougher.
It was last season that set Heaney apart. He pitched at Class A Advanced Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville. Heaney had a combined 9-3 record, throwing 95 1/3 innings. He yielded only 76 hits. Heaney struck out 89 and walked 26. He had a combined WHIP of 1.07 and an ERA of 1.60.
In two years, including an additional 27 2/3 innings in the AFL, Heaney has allowed only four home runs.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Heaney is not among the big, wide-shouldered power pitchers we often see today. Rather, he has a very athletic frame with perhaps a bit of room left for physical development.
Heaney has a complete package of mound presence, an outstanding three-quarters delivery and very smooth, effortless mechanics. He is a master at consistently repeating his delivery and making pitching look easy.
Heaney isn't overpowering. His fastball sits between 90-93 mph. If Heaney needs additional oomph, there is little doubt he can reach 95, but at the cost of some movement. He is best in the low 90s. Heaney's very solid curveball changes the eye level of the hitter with sharp movement. Additionally, he throws a sinking changeup that is a third quality pitch.
Heaney has the ability to sequence those three pitches very well, setting up hitters for swings and misses and, ultimately, strikeouts. He isn't afraid to use his entire repertoire at any time.
In those 27 2/3 AFL innings, Heaney pitched to a 1.01 WHIP and a 1.95 ERA. He gave up only 19 hits, struck out 24 and walked only nine. He was really impressive.
Heaney is the type of pitcher that has the hitter shaking his head, bat in hand, and wondering what just happened on his walk back to the dugout.
Heaney knows how to get hitters out. He will take his development to the next level and continue to refine his game.
Ultimately, Heaney will likely team with Fernandez to form a lethal lefty-righty combination.
Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.