2015 Fantasy Baseball: 30 Prospects in 30 Days — Andrew Heaney
Andrew Heaney is a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels and is considered one of the better pitching prospects in all of baseball. The southpaw stands 6’2 and weighs 185 pounds. The Miami Marlins made him the ninth overall selection in the 2012 draft out of Oklahoma State, and he rose pretty quickly through their minor league system as he ended up making his MLB debut last season.
The Marlins must have soured on him though as they eventually shipped him off to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade for Dee Gordon on December 10 before the Dodgers traded Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick later that day. What a whirlwind 24 hours that must have been for the young pitcher. Alas, Heaney will now compete for a spot in the Angels rotation.
After ranking him 34th last season, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Heaney as the 58th-best prospect in his 2015 top 100 prospects list. Though he suggests his aggressiveness with using his fastball on the mound may have worked against him in some cases last season, Law writes glowingly about the secondary pitches he possesses.
Heaney will show a plus slider and plus or better changeup, coming from just below three-quarters and using the slider against hitters on both sides of the plate, with an aggressive approach that probably didn’t serve him well in the majors because he was too willing to attack hitters over the plate with his fastball. He might need to pitch less off his fastball given how good his off-speed stuff is, and as the fastball command develops, he has the ceiling of a No. 2.
Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs has Heaney slotted in as the 50th-best prospect in his top 200 prospects list for this season. McDaniel elaborates on his arsenal and how Heaney will need to use it to be successful.
His fastball and slider will both flash 60 in his best outings, but Heaney relies more on his feel to pitch than his raw stuff to get strikeouts and grounders. He should be up at some point in 2015 depending on the big league need.
MLB.com rated Heaney as the 25th-best prospect and had good things to say regarding his pitching ability.
Heaney combines advanced pitchability with a well polished arsenal. His fastball sits in the low 90s with good sinking action. His slider is bigger and slower than most, giving it the look of a curveball and generating swings and misses. His changeup has improved into a quality third offering, giving him a weapon against right-handed hitters.
Coming out of college, Heaney was known for his polish and pitchability. Those traits, combined with his plus command, helped him reach the big leagues and now have him ready for a permanent role in the Angels rotation.
The pundits seem to be in agreement that Heaney possesses No. 2/3 type upside and has the arsenal to have prolonged success at the MLB level. According to MLB.com, on a scale of 60 his fastball, slider, and changeup all rate as 55. If he can improve his command, he could be especially filthy on the mound. He is widely regarded as the Angels’ best prospect.
During his brief minor league career, Heaney managed a tidy 2.79 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. His 2.74 FIP indicates his success was no fluke. His 9.02 K/9 mark is solid albeit unspectacular, but he excelled at not allowing home runs as evidenced by his 0.30 HR/9. As you can see in the table above, it was a different story for him once he arrived to the bigs as he failed to impress. Though that’s not exactly surprising considering he was a rookie. Heaney only started five times for the Marlins, and his propensity to give up homers was a huge obstacle for him. While he held left-handed hitters to a .212 average, right-handed hitters managed to hit .309 and he allowed all six homers against them.
According to FanGraphs, the league average line drive rate allowed for pitchers is 21 percent, groundball 44 percent, and fly ball 35 percent. Heaney is known as a groundball pitcher so it was encouraging to see him post a 45.2% groundball rate while allowing a 19.4% line drive rate.While his fly ball rate of 35.5% was nearly identical to the league average rate, he needs to lower that rate while improving his ability to induce grounders.
Steamer projects Heaney to start 12 games and throw 67 innings this season for the Angels while posting a 3.95 ERA. The projections of 7.26 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9 aren’t especially encouraging but the model seems to think he’ll drastically improve his homer rate as they project him to finish at 0.97 HR/9, which makes sense considering his prowess in limiting home runs in the minors. ZiPS is more optimistic regarding the amount of appearances Heaney will make as they project him for 24 games started and 133 innings pitched. They aren’t as high on his overall numbers though as they project him for a 4.26 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.
Heaney may have to battle Hector Santiago for the last spot in the Angels rotation, but in all likelihood he’ll likely open the season in the rotation, especially if Garrett Richards (knee) is forced to spend any time on the disabled list. He’s unlikely to maintain mixed league relevance from the start if his struggles last year were any indication, but his talent should win out in the long haul. With that being said, he’s only worth a late-round flier at best in redraft formats and is better suited to be used as a streaming option initially. On the flip side, he deserves much more consideration in keeper or dynasty formats. He’ll likely improve upon his numbers from last year, but I’m skeptical of his ability to provide reliable fantasy value in standard 12-team leagues.
Thanks to FanGraphs, MLB.com, and ESPN for providing the statistical information. You can comment below if you have any questions or remarks concerning the article. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy and I’m more than willing to answer any questions you may have.