To no surprise, the Marlins returned to Oklahoma to select a pitcher in the First Round of the 2012 MLB First Year Player Draft. Miami selected Andrew Heaney, a 21 year old left-handed pitcher out of Oklahoma State University. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year was praised for his “high level of control of his pitches and his solid frame of which can lead him to the big leagues in a hurry.” He is essentially the quintessential Marlin draft pick, signable, not without risk but lacking the upside of other top pitching selections.
This selection should come of no surprise to Marlins fans. When looking for pitching, Marlins scouts under Oklahoman Stan Meek put a prime focus on that region. That focus yielded Josh Johnson in the fourth round in 2005 and Chad James in the First Round in 2009. While this may not be a high upside pick, Heaney was selected for good reason. Within the next two years Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano will become free agents and thus be extremely costly to retain or replace. Overall, with the exception of last year’s First Round Pick Jose Fernandez, pitching in the Minor Leagues is bare of a potential high impact starter. As a college selection, Heaney seems to be easily projectable as he works his way throughout the farm system. The team in the near future will need young, high impact starters. As such, Miami was prompted to select a college pitcher. In general the Marlins under the ownership of Jeffrey Loria have selected high upside but signable High School Prospects like a Chad James, Jose Fernandez, Chris Volstad, Ryan Tucker, or Brad Hand. The issue with this is that despite having a propensity for generating value and a high reward, there is a much greater risk with selecting high school pitchers. Having less experience and less overall growth than college players, these High School Prospects are slower to reach the Majors and are less projectable going forward. While a team in my opinion should generally select high impact prospects, the Marlins will soon have an immediate need for pitching and unlike in the past are in dire need of a pitcher who can reach the Major League Level rather quickly .
With the exception of Fernandez of who is dominating the Minor Leagues and Hand who filled a need down the stretch last season, these selections have failed to have an impact. This contributed to an organization devoid of pitching depth thus demanding the team select a pitcher like Heaney. Essentially one can argue the Marlins selected the “safe college arm.” Recognizing the team’s long standing history in Oklahoma and the immediate need for pitching, this pick should be of no surprise.