Let the wild speculation begin. Or end. Because folks, it’s that time of year when most of the top prospects around baseball get their tickets punched for the big leagues.
Why? A lot of it has to do with the “Super 2” status. Arbitration adds financial risk exposure to teams with regards to their treasured prospects. The top 22% of players with more than two years of major league service and less than three years are eligible for arbitration. Last season, these players had 2 years and 122 days of service; a player’s clock starts ticking once they get their call up.
Andrew Heaney is currently the Marlins top prospect and ranked #25 overall (on MLBPipeline.com). He was pushed up to AAA New Orleans to see how he would perform. In 23.0 IP he has 27 Ks and only 2 BBs. He is 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA at New Orleans and overall he is 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 76.2 IP he has 79 Ks and 15 BBs.
Heaney is ready. Now once he does get called up the question will be how many innings will he pitch. His pitch count will most likely be limited, much like Jose Fernandez’s was last season. Heaney has only pitched 95 innings last season, and his 76.2 to this point means he is approaching unchartered territory.
The question remains though that even though gradually increasing a player’s workload is a smart move, would it really be a benefit to call up a player like Heaney now who would be testing his skills at the highest level while doing so on a leash? Would such a move really benefit a team that is, at the moment, contending for first place in the NL East and could possibly be doing so for the remainder of the season (After 61 games, the Marlins are looking less like a fad and more like a trend)? All of this and the Marlins would be facing arbitration with Heaney sometime after 2017.
Why not give a guy like Anthony DeSclafani or Brian Flynn a look for the remainder of the season? Flynn is currently #7 on the Marlins prospect list and has logged over 150 innings over his past two minor league seasons (152.0 in 2012, 161.0 in 2013). He’s also a lefty and with a bit more experience and deserves a longer look. Currently Flynn has 55Ks in 74.1 IP against 25 BBs while sporting a 6-4 record.
DeSclafani, like Flynn, has already made his MLB debut and has logged a lot of innings over the last two seasons (123.1 and 129.0). Against the Dodgers in his debut he did it all, but then fizzled a bit in his second start.
Both players have more experience and have logged more innings than Heaney. Neither may have his upside but when considering what is best for the team, a call up for Heaney may not be in the best interest long term because Heaney will be on a leash, which may put undue stress on the bullpen, which is already being retooled for the long haul of the season. If the Marlins are going to give a call up to one of their young arms, it may make more sense to get one of their top-level prospects who have had more experience and let Heaney continue to put in work at AAA.