Miami Marlins could see rotation improve even more with Andrew Heaney

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It’s odd to say the rich could get richer when it involves the Miami Marlins, but their starting rotation could get  even better with the eventual promotion of perhaps the best left-handed starter in the minor leagues.

There have been discussions since spring training that Andrew Heaney could reach the major leagues soon in 2014, especially after the aggressive promotion of Jose Fernandez last year that turned out better than expected.

Along with Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, the Marlins could soon have a strong rotation that will be around for years.

Heaney is shutting down the Double-A Southern League through six starts, recording a 2.45 ERA with 33 strikeouts to eight walks in 33 innings for Jacksonville. After doing something similar to end 2013, Heaney has proven he should at least be in Triple-A by now.

Despite a thin frame, Heaney’s fastball jumps on hitters with an easy motion. He fooled several Mississippi Braves hitters early in Thursday’s game with a fastball that blew by their bats.

The fastball has deception from a smooth and fluid delivery, and it has late life commanded to either side of the plate. Heaney’s fastball is capable of reaching the mid-90s.

Heaney’s slider is also a plus pitch with late bite. His feel for the pitch was inconsistent in Thursday’s start, but he flashed a strong offering on multiple occasions. It’s tough to both sides of the plate when thrown well, because he also shows confidence in throwing the pitch on shoe tops to right-handed batters. The spin rides hard and late, and it’s deceptive off the hard fastball.

Heaney’s changeup is average, but it shows above-average potential. He telegraphed a few, and some were too firm, but he also flashed some that had excellent vertical drop. He commanded the changeup pretty well, which is something he needs to overcome the overall lack of deception.

Heaney has the ceiling of a No. 2 starter, but a good No. 3 is more likely. He has the fastball and slider combination to dominate left-handers, and he could use it to his benefit against righties, too.

But he needs the third pitch, and Heaney’s changeup is just average at this point. Right-handed batters might give him some fits when he doesn’t have a feel for his changeup some days.

The Marlins were fortunate to grab Heaney at ninth overall in 2012 out of Oklahoma State. He should be a reliable force in the middle of Miami’s rotation for years.

ROCKIE GIFT: The Colorado Rockies received a gift in Ryan McMahon in the second rou nd of the 2013 draft.

The third baseman flashes nearly every tool in the book at 19 years old. He’s more than holding his own in the South Atlantic League with a league-leading nine home runs despite being nearly three years younger than the league’s average age.

McMahon’s swing is geared for power, but he should also hit for a good enough batting average to slot in the middle of the lineup. He’s an athletic infielder with a competitive background, and he has all-star potential for the Rockies.

“I’m just trying to keep doing what I’ve been doing and hit the ball hard up the middle,” McMahon said. “We’ve got a few games under our belt. Hopefully, we can get it going as a team.”


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