by Ray Lin
Spirits in South Beach are probably low after an NBA Finals loss, but there’s another team in town that’s given fans reason for optimism. After finishing with the worst record in the National League last season, the Miami Marlins currently have the best home record in the NL and an overall winning record. By all measures, Miami has had a great bounce back season. While much of this has happened because they’ve boasted the 2nd highest-scoring offense in the senior circuit, they’re about to get some big time pitching help after suffering the devastating loss of Jose Fernandez last month.
Miami called up top pitching prospect Andrew Heaney from Triple-A New Orleans on Monday. Heaney is a 23-year-old southpaw who was drafted 9th overall in 2012 by the Marlins out of Oklahoma State, where he was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year that season. He replaces Randy Wolf’s and will immediately slide into the Miami rotation and make his Major League debut Thursday against the Mets.
So what should fantasy owners (or prospective owners) expect out of Heaney? Initially out of high school, scouts had viewed Heaney as a “safe” pick in the first round — high floor, moderate ceiling. After amassing solid college numbers at OSU (20-10, 3.19 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 246 K in 251 IP), Heaney has done everything he can to make scouts eat their words by improving in almost every single statistical category in the minors.
Last year he blew through four levels of the minors before arriving in Triple-A New Orleans this year. In 4 starts for the Zephyrs Heaney is 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, striking out 27 batters in 23 innings. He’s also demonstrated pinpoint control, walking only two batters over that span.
What Heaney brings to the table is three plus pitches from the left side with great command (4.21 K/BB ratio in minors). His fastball runs anywhere from 91-93 that goes with a swing-and-miss slider and a developing changeup. So while his stuff isn’t as electric as teammates Fernandez and Nate Eovaldi, he’s struck out nearly a batter an inning so far in his professional career. He also shouldn’t have much trouble translating that ability to the Majors given his advanced feel for his three pitches and command of the strike zone.
Those in keeper leagues should obviously jump on the opportunity to grab Heaney, but those in standard mixed should also strongly consider him. I’d expect him to settle in as a mid-rotation type fantasy starter in his rookie season. The Marlins have openly said they’ll look to limit his innings, but there’s no reason he can’t be a boon to any fantasy rotation for the second half of the season.
With emerging MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton continuing to lead a surprising Miami offense, Heaney should get plenty of run support and contribute in all pitching categories.
*** Make sure to pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2014 Fantasy Football Draft Guide!! The guide comes complete with projections of over 350 players, expended rankings, sleepers, and so much more (including constant updates up until opening day). For just $6 you will get everything you need to dominate your fantasy league and one lucky subscriber will win a free autographed Brett Favre 8×10! For more information and to place your order, click here. ***