Fate more often than design is how decisions are made, people, organizations even governments best laid plans are put aside by contingency. The Marlins were forced to call up Jose Fernandez because of the spate of injuries that inflicted the Marlins late in Spring Training. Now Fernandez himself is the one who is injured and that will force the Marlins coaching and front office to make a decision. Is it the right time to call up much touted lefty prospect Andrew Heaney?
The Marlins must make two major considerations in making the decision in calling Heaney up.
First, despite the sparkling stats and the electric stuff maybe a starting pitcher, especially a left-hander probably isn’t ready to be a Major League starting pitcher with only 187 professional IP under his belt.
Second, if Heaney is called up before mid-June he would most likely be considered a “Super Two” player which would make him eligible for three years of arbitration instead of the usual four. The Rays faced the same question last year with promoting their prized prospect Wil Myers. Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman waited until after the “Super Two” deadline had passed and Myers made the trip from Durham to Tampa on June 18th to take his place as the Rays starting right fielder.
I’m not a scout, a player development executive or a pitching coach. I’m a very passionate baseball fan and I feel like I know a lot about the game from watching and studying it since I was in middle school.
Which leads me to this conclusion: given the surprising situation that the Marlins are currently in 0.5 games back of the Braves after Memorial Day and the Fish are wildly over-performing expectations, it would be silly to not give it all this year and try make a playoff run.
The consensus surrounding Heaney is impressive he is ranked the top left handed pitching prospect by both MLB and Baseball America and is number 25 on MLB Pipeline’s 100 top prospect list. Evaluating prospects is obviously an inexact science but the Marlins have had such a great track record recently with player development that I believe that Heaney could be just the next man to come up through the Marlins farm system and to Miami. The best example of the Marlins success in drafting and player development have been the dominance of Giancarlo Stanton and the fallen Jose Fernandez. His stats back that up too
Heaney in less than 200 IP in three years of professional baseball has compiled an impressive 2.17 ERA, 3.18 SIERA, 8.9 K/9 and 2.17 BB/9. Last night in Austin in only his second ever AAA start for New Orleans Heaney threw a one hit shutout. Andy Haines said of the young lefty in the Austin Statesman writer Kevin Lyttle.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he’s exciting,” New Orleans manager Andy Haines said. “He has the total package. The way he pounds the bottom of the strike zone is a sight to see. “Tonight he was about as good as a pitcher can get. Their batters were not comfortable against him. Really, all he needs is experience.”
Heaney’s stuff is not the question. He has stuff in spades. He is not a power pitcher but he has a superb three pitch mix. Fastball, slider, changeup.
The fastball is usually in the low 90s with and is complimented a slurve like slider and a change that Heaney himself describes as a “basically a circle that has a little run and sink. My primary fastball is a four-seam, but I throw a two-seam changeup. The way I pronate my two-seam changeup, it ends up rotating more like a four-seam, so I actually get better deception with it.”
Heaney’s stuff coupled with a slightly unorthodox delivery, his windup features a high leg kick and an ability to hide the ball as he delivers makes the lefty more deceptive.
Although he might be advanced he is not entirely ready Marlins GM Dan Jennings says that Heaney ““needs refinement on a couple of things, like a little better pickoff move and holding runners.” Baseball America echoes the sentiment saying that Heaney “has made strides in all aspects of his game, such as holding runners and tempo, but the true test will come in the majors”
That is exactly what we’re all waiting for, the ultimate test for young Andrew Heaney a call up to “The Show” where a trip that started in College Station pitching for the Cowboys will end in Little Havana toeing the rubber for the Marlins. The Marlins must call Heaney up it is their best chance to keep their playoff hopes alive.