Heaney makes Triple-A debut

MIAMI — Andrew Heaney is set to make his Triple-A debut on Thursday, and already there is anticipation regarding what’s next for the touted left-hander.

Ranked by MLB.com as the top lefty pitching prospect in the game, Heaney carries great expectations. There’s certainly good reason to be optimistic about a bright future for the 22-year-old.

Heaney provides hope for what should be a strong rotation in Miami for years to come.

But before fans and media get overly excited, it’s time to temper some of the enthusiasm for Heaney. Not that he won’t live up to the billing. Don’t rush things.

The Marlins promoted Heaney from Double-A to Triple-A for a reason. They want to continue his development, and not just for another couple of weeks.

Many are speculating that Heaney will be in the big leagues in early June, shortly after the Super 2 deadline passes.

From what I’m hearing, that isn’t necessarily the club’s target date. There’s talk that Heaney could make at least four or five starts at New Orleans.

Bottom line is the team isn’t in a rush because there is an effort being made by the organization to develop their prospects more than in the past.

For more than a decade, the philosophy had been: show promised at Double-A and the big leagues could be the next step.

That internal thinking has changed.

The organization also is being tougher critics on their prospects. With Heaney, there isn’t necessarily the projections of a future ace. Many see the lefty as a strong No. 3-caliber pitcher when his career gets going. Obviously, he could prove otherwise. His stuff is considered very good, but not over-powering.

No one should place Jose Fernandez-like expectations on Heaney. It’s not fair. Fernandez is the best of the best. Let Heaney show what he can become.

At Triple-A, he will see more experienced hitters than at Double-A. Facing batters with previous big league experience should be very helpful.

From all indications, Heaney should be up to the task. In the Pacific Coast League, he will be pitching in some hitter-friendly parks, which provides another set of challenges.

The overall hope is that Triple-A will make Heaney even more prepared for the big leagues.

The objective isn’t to get Heaney in the big leagues as quickly as possible. It’s to make him as prepared as possible.

The same things the Marlins seek from Heaney they also will be looking for out of Anthony DeSclafani, who made two big league starts after Fernandez went down.

DeSclafani got a taste of the big leagues, and showed promise with his win at Dodger Stadium. In his second start, a loss to the Phillies, he also saw the importance of pitching ahead in counts.

At New Orleans, DeSclafani will get a chance to work on his overall game. There is a chance DeSclafani could find himself as a reliever candidate the next time he is called up.

As for Heaney, he is being groomed to join the rotation. He may wind up being the best starting option available. His arrival date just may be later in June or perhaps July. It likely will be how quickly Heaney adjusts to Triple-A.

Joe Frisaro

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