GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It might not be too far-fetched to say that left-hander Andrew Heaney will be in the Miami Marlins' rotation by the end of the 2014 season. Especially if he continues to pitch the way he has in the Arizona Fall League.
The 22-year-old Heaney, working for the Glendale Desert Dogs, has put up some of the best numbers of any AFL pitcher. He had a 2-0 record with a 1.82 ERA in six starts (24 2/3 innings) with 21 strikeouts and seven walks as the league entered its sixth and final week.
In Heaney's most recent start on Saturday, he no-hit the Scottsdale Scorpions through five innings, walked one and struck out four. For Week 5, he was 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA, allowing two runs on three hits in 10 innings with one walk and five strikeouts in two starts.
The AFL selected Heaney as its Pitcher of the Week. Surprise Saguaros first baseman Travis Shaw (Boston Red Sox) was named Player of the Week.
After the Marlins made Heaney their first-round pick (ninth overall) out of Oklahoma State University in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, he has posted more good numbers in four Minor League stops over two seasons, most recently Double-A Jacksonville. Heaney has a combined 10-5 record and a 2.21 ERA in 25 games (24 starts), with 32 walks and 119 strikeouts in 122 1/3 innings.
Heaney, currently ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Miami organization by MLB.com, has been encouraged by what has transpired in the Fall League thus far. The league wraps up play with its championship game on Saturday, and he has one more start remaining, on Thursday against the Mesa Solar Sox.
"Most of my stuff has been pretty good," Heaney said Monday. "In that last game, my slider was working well early in the game, so I kept going with it. The swings were missing out of the [strike] zone.
"In some of my other starts, the changeup has been working better.
"I've had a lot of help from my catchers, particularly Pratt Maynard [of the Los Angeles Dodgers]. He caught that last game. It was about the third time we had worked together and I think I shook him off only once. He's done a great job."
The slider is the main pitch on which Heaney has focused this fall. And he has put in a lot of time holding runners on base with more consistency at the suggestion of the Marlins' pitching coordinator.
The Marlins made a big trade with the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason, and some thought Miami gave up too much. But Heaney said they got a lot of promising young talent in return and that it is on the verge of coming into its own.
Include pitcher Jose Fernandez, named the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner on Monday, in the mix, and the future doesn't seem so bleak after all.
"We have a lot of good young players, a lot of it in the Minor Leagues that you will be seeing over the next couple years," Heaney said. "Some of the pitchers are amazing. I think there are six or seven guys who will be capable of pitching in the big leagues very soon."
Heaney hopes he will be on that list, but he knows a lot can happen, that he must continue to work hard. Pitching in the Fall League certainly has helped.
"Some of the guys here, I've played against or at least heard about them, what they have done," Heaney said. "Now I am seeing them all firsthand. There are no weak links. You have to stay focused on every hitter. You have to be locked in the entire game."
After the Fall League season ends, Heaney will return home to Oklahoma and consult with his pitching coordinator about how to divide his time until Spring Training begins.
"I learned a bit about what to do last year [between my first and second seasons], so I have a pretty good idea, but I just want to make sure I'm doing the right things," Heaney said.
Don Ketchum is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less