By Rich Arleo
Andrew Heaney, Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels
2014 season (Minors): 24 G, 23 GS, 137.1 IP, 3.28 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 9 W, 143 SO, 36 BB
2014 season (Majors): 7 G, 5 GS, 29.1 IP, 5.83 ERA, 1.330 WHIP, 0 W, 20 SO, 7 BB
It’s been a crazy couple of years for Andrew Heaney, who has risen through the Minor League ranks, been traded twice in a matter of hours this offseason and has struggled to find effectiveness at the big league level. But at 23 years old, the Angels’ new top prospect still has plenty of time to break into the rotation this season.
Drafted ninth overall by the Miami Marlins in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Heaney was immediately regarded as one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball as a lefty out of Oklahoma State University. After his impressive college career, Heaney pitched just a few games at Class A that year, but it was ‘13 when he began to really make some noise. Between Class A Advanced Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, Heaney posted a 1.60 ERA and 1.070 WHIP while striking out 8.4 per nine innings. From there, he was elevated on top prospects lists and widely regarded, at just 22, as one of the top 30 prospects in baseball.
The tall left-hander began last season again in Double-A, but after cruising to a 2.35 ERA in nine appearances, he would face what most thought would be his toughest challenge yet at Triple-A New Orleans. After just a few starts, however, Heaney got the callup to the Marlins in June, and he was every bit impressive in his MLB debut. He allowed one run on four hits in six innings, striking out three, though the Marlins lost, 1-0. It was downhill from there, however, as Heaney allowed 14 runs in 14 2/3 innings over his next three starts and was sent back down to Triple-A.
Heaney spent most of the rest of the year in New Orleans, aside from a late September callup that again saw mixed results. He finished the year in Triple-A with a decent 3.28 ERA, but his numbers there obviously were a bit underwhelming compared to what he had done at the lower levels.
The Marlins decided to send him to the Dodgers in the Dee Gordon trade, and the Dodgers almost immediately flipped him to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. Now with the Angels, Heaney had every chance to crack the rotation to start the season, but this spring did not go well. Heaney allowed 19 runs in 19 innings over five starts and will be sent to Triple-A, if he hasn’t already been by the time you read this.
While his spring performance was obviously disappointing, there’s still loads of potential here. He struck out 16 to just seven walks, was mostly felled by one bad inning in the majority of his starts, and there will still likely be a rotation spot open for him down the road, even though the Angels will start with a four-man rotation out of the gate.
Heaney is a three-pitch pitcher, with his feature pitch a wipeout slider to go along with a low-90s fastball and low-80s changeup. It will just be a matter of consistency for Heaney, who should benefit from more innings at Triple-A before — if all works out — returning to the bigs with dominant stuff in hand.
Rich Arleo is a freelance sports writer and editor who covers Major League Baseball and fantasy sports. You can follow him on Twitter, @Rarleo.