After the New Orleans Zephyrs wrapped up their game on Sunday in Albuquerque, Andrew Heaney was ecstatic when he returned to the clubhouse and found out that teammates Jake Marisnick, Justin Bour and Anthony DeSclafani were all being promoted to the Marlins.
“It was so awesome,” Heaney said.
And then came the news that nearly floored Heaney, the former first-round draft pick and one of the top pitching prospects in all of professional baseball.
He was handed a travel itinerary with his name on it.
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In a move that Marlins fans have been clamoring for, Heaney was promoted as well.
“The NOLA 4 come rolling in from Albuquerque,” proclaimed Marlins general manager Dan Jennings on one of the busiest transaction days in franchise history.
In what amounted to a tidal wave of roster moves, the Marlins completely revamped their rotation, adding Heaney and DeSclafani to the starting mix, while parting company with veterans Randy Wolf and Kevin Slowey.
Wolf and Slowey were designated for assignment while Jacob Turner was taken out of the rotation and placed in the bullpen as a long reliever.
“Over the last 10 days, it’s been a struggle to get good starts, consistent starts,” said manager Mike Redmond. “[With] DeSclafani and Heaney coming in, even though they are young guys, we felt like this is the right time and the perfect time.”
With the rotation sputtering in the aftermath of Jose Fernandez’s season-ending arm injury and the Marlins managing to hang around near the top of the National League East standings, the front office decided to shake up the roster with a series of move they hope will keep the team in contention all the way to the end.
Heaney, a left-hander, is considered a future ace, a potential Tom Glavine-type pitcher. He’ll make his major league debut on Thursday. DeSclafani, obtained in the blockbuster Toronto Blue Jays trade in 2012, is back with the club after making two starts for the Marlins in May. He’ll start Tuesday.
The average age of the Marlins’ starting staff: 24.4 years.
“It’s surreal,” Heaney said while seated inside the Marlins’ dugout. “You think about how it might happen, or what you want to happen, and then it does, and it doesn’t hit you until just now. I’m in the park, I’m looking out, and I’m really excited.”
Heaney, who was the Marlins’ top draft pick in 2012 (ninth overall), has been tearing it up in the minors. His combined record with Double A Jacksonville and New Orleans this season: 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA. His overall mark over three minor-league seasons: 17-7 with a 2.31 ERA.
“I believe I’m [ready],” Heaney said.
Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations, said “Andrew Heaney is part of our immediate future and for many years to come. We want to get him here in the thick of a race and allow him to help this ballclub. We think every fifth day he’ll give us a chance to go out there and win a ballgame.”
Hill said Heaney should be able to stay on schedule, starting every fifth game from now through September. Hill also said the Marlins want Heaney to be himself and not try to be the second coming of Fernandez, who established himself as one of the top pitchers in the majors in one season’s time.
“We just want Andrew to do what Andrew does,” Hill said. “He’s a strike thrower. He’s going to pound the zone. He has an above-average breaking ball. We don’t want him to be anyone but who he is. Jose Fernandez is Jose Fernandez and Andrew Heaney is Andrew Heaney. We love them both and we’re glad we have them both. We’re going to allow Andrew to grow and hopefully have a lot of success at the major league level.”
• The Marlins made several other moves Monday, optioning infielder Donovan Solano to New Orleans, placing outfielder Christian Yelich on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain, and transferring Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the 15-day disabled list.
With Yelich out, Marisnick started in center field Monday. Bour, a first baseman, provides the Marlins with a power lefty hitter off the bench.
The Marlins now have 10 players on their current 25-man roster who weren’t on the Opening Day roster.