Marlins

Miami Marlins prospect Andrew Heaney being held in high regard

 

Baseball scouts are raving about Marlins pitching prospect Andrew Heaney, who will likely start this season in the minor leagues.

cspencer@MiamiHerald.com

He’s not built like Adonis.

But …

“His physique is deceiving,” said Wayne Rosenthal, the Marlins’ minor-league pitching coordinator. “He’s as strong as anything.”

He doesn’t look like he’s throwing all that hard.

But …

“He has excellent velocity with no effort,” said a major-league scout who has watched him pitch. “The ball jumps out of his hand.”

He has only spent a 1 1/2 years in the minors.

But …

“As far as his stuff goes and his demeanor, he’s ready,” Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.

As in ready to pitch in the majors.

Andrew Heaney has all the makings of a future pitching star for the Marlins, and that future might not be that far off.

The 22-year-old left-hander — the Marlins’ first-round draft pick in 2012 — delivered another strong spring training performance on Thursday when he held the Detroit Tigers scoreless for three innings.

If all goes well for Heaney, he could be in the big leagues pitching for the Marlins before the end of the season, if not much sooner.

Baseball America ranked Heaney as the No. 30 overall prospect in all of professional baseball and the top left-handed pitcher in their rankings of the top-100 prospects.

Scouts who have watched him pitch don’t dispute the hype.

“He could be anything,” said one.

Said another major league scout, who asked that his name not be used: “I think he’s a solid, solid No. 3 starter with potential No. 2 ability in the big leagues. He throws strikes. And, right now, if you’re left-handed and you’re 6-feet-4 and you throw strikes, they’re going to carve out a place for you in the big leagues.”

Rosenthal said Heaney reminds him of a young Tom Glavine, when the retired 300-game winner still had his fastball velocity.

“Pitchability-wise, he’s got the plus fastball,” Rosenthal said. “He’s got an out-pitch slider, and he’s got a changeup. So you’re looking at three plus pitches.”

Heaney dominated at Single A Jupiter last season and, at one point, went 27 consecutive innings without allowing a run. He was eventually promoted to Double A Jacksonville and continued to pitch well there.

He likely will begin this season in the minors, as well.

Then again, Jose Fernandez was expected to start out last season in the minors, only to land a spot on the Opening Day roster and a place in the Marlins’ starting rotation after injuries landed two of their starters on the disabled list.

Could lightning strike twice? Probably not.

“There’s a good chance that if the exact same perfect storm that happened as happened last year, he could be like Jose Fernandez,” the scout said. “It wouldn’t hurt their ballclub a whole bunch. He’d hold his own in the big leagues right now.”

Heaney will likely have to bide his time in the minors, though. He said he doesn’t have a timetable of when he expects to be playing in the majors.

“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “If not, it’s perfectly fine with me. I can’t predict anything. I would hope [to get called up sometime this season]. But if I go to Double A and [stink], you never know.”

Off to Panama

Ed Lucas remained in Jupiter when a contingent of Marlins players and coaches left for Panama on Friday for a two-game weekend set with the New York Yankees.

Lucas, who was scheduled to go on the trip, was left to deal with a left hamstring injury he sustained Thursday.

“It’s sore, but it’s nothing serious,” Lucas said. “Not great timing, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Lucas is vying with Donovan Solano for a utility infield spot and had enjoyed a strong spring to this point.

• Jeff Baker (quad injury) returned to the lineup Friday.

• Rafael Furcal (hamstring) is expected to start Saturday.

COMING UP

•  Saturday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez vs. Washington Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg, 1:05 p.m., Jupiter; Marlins RHP Brad Hand vs. New York Yankees RHP Adam Warren, 8:05 p.m., Panama City, Panama.

•  Sunday: Marlins RHP Kevin Slowey at Minnesota Twins RHP Ricky Nolasco, 1:05 p.m., Fort Myers; Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. New York Yankes CC Sabathia, 2:05 p.m., Panama City, Panama.

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