Andrew Heaney didn't let his first taste of the major leagues get the best of him. And because of that, he may be a pitcher to watch come September.
Miami is still in the hunt for a wild card spot, and when rosters expand in just over a week, Heaney is a candidate to be promoted. But while Heaney's first few starts with the Marlins were not significantly successful, Jim Callis of Sports on Earth believes Heaney is a candidate to be an October ace.
Miami drafted Heaney ninth overall after he led NCAA Division I with 140 strikeouts in 118 innings as an Oklahoma State junior in 2012, and despite some acrimonious negotiations, they landed him for $2.6 million on the day of the signing deadline. Considered the most polished pitcher in his draft class, he has lived up to that billing by breezing through the minors and making his big league debut this June. He recorded a quality start against the Mets in his first outing, then got hit hard in his next three before returning to Triple-A.
Heaney quickly worked through Miami's minor league system, and rightfully was promoted after the Marlins lost Jose Fernandez. Even with the Marlins' starting pitching depth, Heaney was among the more qualified arms and likely still is.
In four starts, Heaney went 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA and 6.19 FIP. He was plagued by the long ball, and allowed at least four runs his three of the four.
While Miami tries to remain competitive, Nathan Eovaldi has been inconsistent and Manager Mike Redmond has yet to formally decide between Brad Hand and Brad Penny for the Marlins' fifth starting spot. Anthony DeSclafani, Randy Wolf, and Brian Flynn have all seen time in Miami's rotation, which Henderson Alvarez has slowly become the ace of since Fernandez went down.
Heaney's fastball and slider have both been praised, and his changeup has reportedly improved. He has been efficient in New Orleans, and could anchor Miami's rotation for the rest of the season.
Considering his limited major league experience and inconsistencies, it may be premature to say Heaney can be an October ace. But moving forward, he has the potential to become one of the best arm's on the Marlins' starting staff.