Los Angeles Angels rookie pitcher Andrew Heaney had an excellent game last night: seven innings against the New York Yankees for his first big league win, just two hits and one run allowed, two walks with seven strikeouts. This followed up his also-solid previous start on June 24th against the Houston Astros (six innings, four hits, one walk, one run, five strikeouts) giving him a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings with six hits allowed and a 12/3 K/BB.
This is just two games of course but it serves to focus some deserved positive attention back on the left-hander.
Heaney was drafted in the first round by the Miami Marlins in 2012 from Oklahoma State University. He zipped through the system quickly with a spectacular 2013 season (1.60 ERA, 89/26 K/BB in 95 innings between High-A and Double-A) but was a little more human in 2014, thriving in Double-A (2.35, 52/13 K/BB in 54 innings) but having a few ups-and-downs in Triple-A (3.87, 91/23 K/BB in 84 innings) and some rough moments in the majors (5.83, 20/7 K/BB, 32 hits in 29 innings).
His stock slipped enough that the Marlins shipped him off to the Dodgers in the Dee Gordon trade. He stayed in LA but was then traded to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. Expected to make the Angels rotation this spring, he instead struggled in spring training and opened the season with Triple-A Salt Lake. With the Bees his ERA was elevated at 4.71 but most of that is PCL context: his FIP was much better at 3.07. He doesn't have much left to prove in the minors and the Angels just need to let this guy pitch.
Heaney has solid stuff across the board: 90-95 fastball, very good slider, very good change-up. He usually throws strikes but last year looked like he needed to make some final adjustments with his location, learning exactly what he can get away with in the majors. It looks like he is doing that.
In the 2015 Baseball Prospect Book this year I compared him to a healthy Mike Minor, Wade Miley (thinking of the 2012-2014 version), or going further back in history, Denny Neagle.Those comps still make sense to me and we should expect Heaney to be an above-average starting pitcher (with moments of excellence) going forward.