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Player Background

The ninth-overall pick by the Miami Marlins in the 2012 draft, Andrew Heaney was seen as the top college southpaw in the class, but he was the fifth pitcher taken, after right-handers Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, and Mark Appel, and high-school lefty Max Fried. Heaney slipped in the draft despite not being the typical college left-hander with advanced pitchability; he led the NCAA in strikeouts during his junior season. He quickly signed with the Marlins for $2.6 million and made six professional starts before the end of the season.

Heaney began the 2013 season in the Florida State League, and his fastball/slider combination was too much for the competition to handle. He dominated with a 0.88 ERA and 66-to-17 K:BB ratio in 61 2/3 innings over 12 starts. The Marlins brought him up to Double-A for six starts and he posted a 2.94 ERA. Heaney made his major-league debut with the Marlins in June of 2014. He had a 6.53 ERA in his first four starts and went back to the minors before returning to the majors in September.

Heaney had the unfortunate privilege of being traded twice in the same day this past offseason. For a few moments he was Dodgers property after a swap for Dee Gordon and Dan Haren, but was then flipped straight up to the Angels for second sacker Howie Kendrick.

What’s Happened So Far

Heaney began the year in Triple-A and got off to a bit of a slow start in April as he had a 4.62 ERA in five starts, though he was still missing bats as he had 25 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. He picked up his performance from that point on, but two more bombings kept his ERA inflamed despite a 3.11 FIP in 78 1/3 innings at Triple-A before he was called up to the majors in June. Heaney has always been able to miss bats in the minors as he has 336 strikeouts in 338 career innings down on the farm.

Heaney is striking guys out in the majors now with the Angels, having compiled 31 Ks in 40 1/3 innings over six starts, and he has maintained the same strikeout rate that he had in Triple-A this year at 20 percent. What’s perhaps more impressive is that he’s issued only five walks to the 154 batters he’s faced in the majors for a 3.3 percent walk clip. Coming into this season, Heaney’s command was a part of his game that needed to improve, and so far his walk percentage in the majors is better than what he’s had at any level of the minor leagues, which is undeniably a good sign.

What to Expect for the Rest of 2015

In addition to his good strikeout and walk numbers so far, Heaney has been particularly adept at preventing hits, allowing just a .204 average against. Unfortunately for his rest-of-season outlook, it appears that he’s not entirely responsible for the lack of hits against him. Heaney’s BABIP against is a mere .239, which is well below league average and unwise to take at face value from a pitcher with only a handful of starts under his belt. His BABIP has helped him both keep his AVG down and produce a very low 0.87 WHIP. If his 3.05 FIP or 2.49 DRA are any indication, though, Heaney is unlikely to continue to pitch quite this well. That’s not to say that we should expect him to start getting hammered out of nowhere, but it would be difficult for anyone to keep up a 1.79 ERA, let alone a guy with 11 major-league starts to his name.

IP

ERA

WHIP

SO

WAR

32.2

3.41

1.20

28

0.4

As you can see from Heaney’s rest-of-season PECOTA projection above, the system isn’t projecting him to continue to pitch to a sub-2.00 ERA, nor is it projecting that he’ll completely fall apart. He’s enjoyed the benefit of a low BABIP and an 88 percent strand rate so far, and some regression is to be expected over the last two months of the season because those aren’t factors he can necessarily control. Even with some regression likely on the way, though, Heaney’s true talent level appears to be that of a mid-rotation starter, and his advanced pitchability might give him a leg up on other young pitchers who have been in similar situations.

The Great Beyond

Over the last month, Heaney has been one of the best starters in fantasy as he’s won his last five starts while racking up strikeouts and exceptional ratios. This, of course, makes him a decent trade candidate if you can act before your league’s deadline. While some owners can’t resist a young pitcher on a roll in his first trip around the majors, it’s generally a wise course of action to express caution in regards to young pitching, which is why I would at least see what Heaney could bring back in a trade. Even in keeper leagues where Heaney’s youth is actually beneficial to his value, it could be worth shopping him in case someone believes his upside is more than just blossoming into a durable no. 3 starter.

While the Angels appeared to really miss Kendrick early in the season when Heaney was still in the minors and they had problems replacing Kendrick at second base, it’s easy to see the trade in a different light now. Heaney is up in the big leagues enjoying success already and he won’t be a free agent until 2021 while Kendrick is set to hit the open market this offseason. The Angels are already without their GM when this trade was made, Jerry Dipoto, but will be reaping the benefits of this deal for years and years to come as Heaney establishes himself as a mid-rotation staple.

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