One of the really nice things about the Miami Marlins, at least from a fantasy perspective, is that the organization aggressively promotes MLB-ready prospects.
Jose Fernandez made his Miami debut at age 20, having never appeared in a regular season game above Single-A. No member of this team's home-grown starting outfield — not Yelich, not Ozuna, not Stanton — was required to make a stop at Triple-A prior to joining the Fish. Often, when this franchise decides that a highly regarded prospect is ready to tread water, they simply toss the kid in the deep waters of the N.L. East.
So when we tell you that left-handed starter Andrew Heaney has been embarrassing the hitters of the Double-A Southern League, you should consider it actionable fantasy info.
Heaney, 22, entered the season ranked as the consensus No. 1 talent in the Marlins' minor league system, and he's been brilliant through four early starts at Jacksonville. He's struck out 25 batters over 24.1 innings thus far, issuing only three walks, 18 hits and four runs. His last three starts have been particularly terrific, as he's yielded just one run and eight hits over 19.0 frames.
If Heaney isn't the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, he's certainly in the discussion. He's been fantastic at every minor league stop. Selected ninth overall in the 2012 draft out of Oklahoma State, Heaney arrived in pro ball with an advanced pitching arsenal. When he was promoted to Jacksonville last season, he was working on a 27-inning scoreless streak (eventually extended to 33).
Here's some spring hype on Heaney, via the Miami Herald:
“He has excellent velocity with no effort,” said a major-league scout who has watched him pitch. “The ball jumps out of his hand.”
“As far as his stuff goes and his demeanor, he’s ready,” Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said.
“Pitchability-wise, he’s got the plus fastball,” [pitching coordinator Wayne] Rosenthal said. “He’s got an out-pitch slider, and he’s got a changeup. So you’re looking at three plus pitches.”
And when Heaney gets the call, he'll do his pitching in a homer-suppressing park, in the friendlier league. If you're a fantasy owner in a deeper format, this is probably the time to make your move. No one should be surprised if Heaney spends two-thirds of his season with the big league club. He's a serious talent putting up silly numbers, and his path to the majors is uncluttered.