In the 2013 season, the Miami Marlins captured lightning in a bottle when Jose Fernandez pitched beautifully on his way to the National League Rookie of the Year Award. The temptation to replicate that will be there this Spring when the team looks at Andrew Heaney. The top prospect had a masterful 2013 including his stint in the Arizona Fall League and could possibly be ready for big league ball. The problem is that Heaney has not seen much time above A-ball and the Marlins cannot afford to have two young top of the rotation guys with their arbitration clocks ticking prematurely.
Heaney could very well capture his own Rookie of the Year Award if he was to start 2014 in the rotation. He’s in a very similar situation to Fernandez and actually is more advanced in terms of seeing some innings at AA. Calling Heaney up to begin 2014 however, would mean that he would hit arbitration and free agency an entire year sooner. That’s something that will happen with Fernandez down the road already. The Marlins work within a small budget and likely will continue to do so, this makes cost controlled players especially important. If the Marlins can simply wait until mid-season to bring Heaney up, they will avoid losing a year on his contract status and it will also allow him to get his feet wet in the big leagues.
In all likelihood, the Marlins are not going to contend in 2014, but 2015 is another story. With Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi and Tom Koehler to name a few sitting around, there are plenty of arms to hold down the rotation until Heaney comes on board. Of those names, some will be a part of the 2015 rotation that could play October baseball.
A 1-2 punch of Fernandez and Heaney could dominant the National League and be deadly in a short series come playoff time. Miami needs to do what they can to make that dynamic duo last as many seasons as possible. The key to that is to resist temptation and keep Heaney on the farm until mid-season regardless of how well he performs.