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Prospect Q&A: Heaney has setback
Marlins' top '12 pick rehabbing lat strain before first season
03/19/2013 10:45 AM ET
The Oklahoma State product was the ninth overall draftee in 2012 Draft.
The Oklahoma State product was the ninth overall draftee in 2012 Draft. (Dano Keeney/MiLB.com)
Eight months after he was selected with the 12th overall pick in baseball's Draft, Andrew Heaney was on the golf course with Major Leaguers like Jacob Turner.

The 21-year-old left-hander -- one of three lefties among Miami's top seven prospects and MLB.com's No. 81 farmhand -- was not, however, expected to break camp with the Marlins. Heck, he was just happy to be there.

But before he appeared in a single Spring Training game against Major League batters, Heaney was sent down among his Minor League peers to rehab a lat strain. MiLB.com caught up with the Oklahoma State product to discuss the setback and other stuff.

MiLB.com: What's the prognosis?

Heaney: Still rehabbing. I am cleared to get out on the field to do PFPs [pitchers' fielding practice] and activities but no throwing. Hopefully, within a week or two, I'll be back throwing again.

MiLB.com: How did it happen?

Heaney: Last pitch of a sim game. I was throwing a sim inning and felt a pull in my lat. It stayed out of the joint. Weird spot for a pitcher. Obviously, I use a lot of muscles pitching, but guys usually get forearm or biceps issues. I came into camp feeling great -- I was throwing really well. It's unfortunate, but it's baseball.


MiLB.com: Speaking of ball, what stands out from your six-start pro debut last summer?

Heaney: When I got to [Class A] Greensboro, the first thing I noticed was our team chemistry was just awesome. I jumped in not knowing anybody, and they just took me in, staying at [a teammate's] apartment. It was a really cool feel for the team, and we actually ended up making it to the Finals. When you're in college, some guys are there, but baseball is not their No. 1 priority. It was great to have a group of guys whose No. 1 goal was to play well and go out there and win, which is how it should be. Playing-wise, I tried to fit in and fill a role and got some starts. I ended up getting back to where I was at in midseason form in college.

MiLB.com: Your last outing was your best -- nine strikeouts over six innings of two-run ball. How do you evaluate the way you pitched overall?

Heaney: It probably wasn't the best that I could have done. I was just glad that they let me work through some stuff. When I first got to the [Gulf Coast] League -- after what I considered a fairly long college season, getting geared back up to throw to live hitters -- it took me a while to adjust. But I finally got there and I felt good about it.

MiLB.com: It was also your first action against pro batters -- who was the toughest matchup?

Heaney: When I was in the GCL, I faced [No. 1 overall draftee] Carlos Correa. He was one of the bigger-name guys. When I got to Greensboro, I really didn't know a lot about the guys and it was so late in the year that a lot of hitters were moving up. I know [Matt] Skole, who was [with Hagerstown], he had gotten moved up, so I didn't get to see him.

MiLB.com: Did the Marlins coaches help you make any changes that you're carrying into 2013?

Heaney: I made an adjustment on stride length and tempo that really helped me out. I was getting more production out of my lower half and toward the end of the year started throwing harder than I ever have. Obviously, velocity doesn't really mean anything, but it helps to know I'm getting the most out of my body. That helps with my slider and changeup, getting out in front more. "Rosie," our pitching coordinator [Wayne Rosenthal], helped me out with those mechanics, and then [Blake] McGinley, our pitching coach at Greensboro, helped me as well.

MiLB.com: So lengthening your stride helped how exactly?

Heaney: Getting more out of my legs and then obviously if I'm a little bit closer to the plate, that's a little less time the hitter has to react to it. Put those two together and it really helps out a lot.

MiLB.com: And your tempo -- was it too fast or too slow?

Heaney: I had a pretty slow tempo to begin with, and I guess when I got to [Greensboro], I was in an even slower rhythm. So one day, Rosie said, "Do you always pitch that slow? Let's look at this," so we did. And I was like, "Man, I don't think I've ever been that slow." Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head, something changed. It was mainly tempo within my delivery, not in between pitches.

MiLB.com: You mentioned your slider and changeup and your fastball often hits the mid-90 mph range -- what about your repertoire needs work?

Heaney: I want to make sure I don't want to fall into any old habits as far as stride length and tempo. And then I want to have good fastball command. I would like to develop my changeup a little bit, throw it more consistently and have more feel with it for a strike and a swing and a miss if I need it. I felt like I had everything going last year, but the changeup needed work.

MiLB.com: Before you started throwing this offseason, what was your focus?

Heaney: Definitely put on some weight and some muscle and really just had the first true offseason that I've ever had. In school, I had Christmas break, and that's about the only break I had. I had the spring season, then I went to play summer ball, then I'm coming back and getting ready for the season in the fall. I've never had a four-month offseason before, so that was really good for me to work on putting weight, more muscle, being physical.

MiLB.com: You were listed at 190 pounds -- how much weight have you piled on?

Heaney: I added close to 20 pounds. I worked out with some guys in Oklahoma City. I feel real good about still being flexible while getting stronger. I'm hoping I can keep most of that on throughout the season and not lose it, but that can be tough at times for guys like me.

MiLB.com: In tip-top shape and nearing your return to the mound, what do you have in mind for this season?

Heaney: I just wanted to come in and play for a spot, whether it's in [Class A Advanced] Jupiter or anywhere. I wanted to earn a spot. Now that I've had a setback, I just want to be healthy, start the season healthy and not have anything nagging me.

Andrew Pentis is a contributor to MLB.com and writes the Prospective Blog. Follow him on Twitter at AndrewMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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