Last season, when the Miami Marlins brought up their top pitching prospect at the start of the year, he dominated. Jose Fernandez was untouchable on his way to the NL Rookie of the Year award. This year while unexpectedly being thrust into the NL East race, the Marlins have called up their current top pitching prospect, Andrew Heaney. In Heaney, they have a young, left-handed arm that can not only be a big factor in the future, but also keep them in the race this season.
Throughout Heaney’s first two college seasons, he was not the most impressive college pitcher in the nation. He split time as both a starter and a reliever and did not have many eye-popping numbers. During both season his ERA was over four and he failed to eat up innings.
His junior season however is what earned him his first round status. During this season, Heaney struck out a NCAA leading 140 batters in just 118 innings of work. He went 8-2 with a 1.60 ERA and completed six of his starts. These awesome numbers allowed him to be a first team All-American (the programs first since Jason Bell in 1994) and become a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award which is given to the nation’s best player.
Since becoming a professional, he has been outstanding. After missing some time to start 2013, Heaney moved through two levels, finishing the year at AA Jacksonville. Through 19 appearances (18 starts) Heaney allowed just 17 earned runs on his way to a 1.60 combined ERA. These numbers allowed him to be viewed as the top left handed pitching prospect by MLB.com.
This season he has lived up to these huge expectations. Again moving up two levels, he has posted a 7-2 record while averaging over a strikeout per inning. This has helped to earn a promotion to the big club after just under 200 minor league innings.
In joining the Miami rotation, Heaney brings a left handed power arm with high strikeout potential. Heaney not only features a mid-90s fastball, but a sharp slider that is nearly unhittable. He also has a dropping changeup that helps to keep hitters in check. Last season, unlike most lefties He was actually better facing right-handed batters.
The Marlins are young and poised to compete now. Last year no one expected Fernandez to an instant star, and this year Heaney has that same capabilities. He has competed and been successful and every stop and things should not change in the big leagues. If he can put it together quickly at the major league level, the Marlins may not only have back-to-back Rookie of the Year seasons, but they may be on their way to an October run, too.
Statistics Provided by Baseball Cube and Baseball Reference