45 Prospects in 45 Days: Miami’s Andrew Heaney
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
Andrew Heaney was a first round choice (ninth overall) of the Miami Marlins in 2012. He was drafted out of Oklahoma State University where the 6’2” 190 lb lefthander garnered unanmioius All-American status as a junior in 2012 by leading the NCAA in strikeouts with 140 over 118 1/3 innings.
Heaney had been previously drafted out of high school in 2009 by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 24 th round but opted to head to Stillwater and hone is craft in college. And with a signing bonus of $2.6M, Heaney seemed to have made the correct choice.
Heaney has a three-pitch mix led by a 90-94 mph fastball, a sharp curveball and a solid changeup. He doesn’t have the upside of fellow first rounder Jose Fernandez, but he has the chance to be a number two starter with a profile that should easily reach number three status without much more development.
Heaney rates as the number one prospect in the Marlins system according to Jason Parks and crew over at Baseball Prospectus. Parks’ puts Heaney at number 30 in all of baseball after not being in the top 101 prior to the start of 2013. Parks said that
Heaney really stepped forward in 2013, jumping from a “wait and see” college arm to a bona fide high-end prospect, pitching his way to the Double-A level in his first full season.
And noted that Heaney has an
Athletic and fluid delivery; good balance and tempo; arm works well; fastball is creeper pitch in the low-mid-90s; good deception in the delivery allows it to jump on hitters; velo ticks up deep into games; can touch 96+ when he needs it;…
Heaney also ranks atop the Marlins’ system in Keith Law’s rankings over at ESPN. Law places him at 34 in all of baseball. He was also unranked by Law in 2013’s top 100 listing. Law states about Heaney:
If he threw harder and had a somewhat cleaner delivery, he’d be a top 10 or 15 overall prospect, but as is I think he’s a good No. 3 starter trending up toward a No. 2 because of his control and how hard it is for hitters to pick up the ball.
Baseball America’s ranking mirrors BP’s with Heaney at number one in the Marlins system and number 30 overall. However, BA had Heaney at 43 last year in their rankings after the other two big boys ignored Heaney.
Minor League Production
So, the ninth overall pick in 2012 should be rocketing up the minor league ladder. What has Heaney shown on his trek to the majors?
The first thing to jump out at me is the huge drop in K% for Heaney as he moved up to AA late last year. Yes, the sample size is small, but we should take notice. The scouting reports said that he was still dominating at times even at AA and we did see a bounce back in the Arizona Fall League. However, the AA stats do give me some pause as to how well he might do in his first taste of the major leagues. He showed greater than 20% K rates in all of his other stops, so the stuff is there to get strikeouts. It just may take some time to develop.
Steamer is here for completeness, but the projection means that Steamer doesn’t believe Heaney hits the majors this year. Neither Oliver nor ZiPS sees stud pitcher in Heaney’s immediate future. An ERA around four with a K% below 20% doesn’t scream go out and buy. And I tend to agree. As I noted above, I have some concern with Heaney as he moves up the ladder and I think his first go round at the major league level might be a bit bumpy. In deep leagues, he’s got some value and for keeper/dynasty formats he’s a must own as I believe his development will lead to bigger strikeout numbers (though not elite) and above average ERA and WHIP.
Most every fantasy expert has Heaney in the Marlins’ 2014 rotation at some point based on the ease with which they decided to promote Jose Fernandez in 2013. However, Heaney and Fernandez are two different pitchers. Fernandez is a workhorse who has the ceiling of an ace whereas Heaney is coming off a 2013 where he only threw 123 innings combined (including the AFL).
I see Heaney spending the majority of 2014 in the minor leagues only getting the call up should significant injuries hit the rotation during the year. I don’t think Heaney gets more than 10 starts at the major league level this year. Moreover, if he gets to the majors, I can see the Marlins limiting him to 150 IP overall in 2014 thus muting his overall value.
It is impossible to predict what the Marlins’ front office will do, so we could see Heaney break camp with the Marlins and make the Opening Day roster. However, I think it’s more likely that he starts back at AA for a month and then progresses to AAA where he spends most of 2014. He’s a deep league play and is a pitcher to be owned in dynasty leagues as I believe he will mature into a front line starter.