It looks like Andrew Heaney wanted to join in on Glendale's no-hit fun.
The Marlins' No. 2 prospect held Scottsdale hitless for five innings Saturday afternoon as the Desert Dogs held on for a 3-2 victory in Arizona Fall League action.
Heaney, who struck out four and walked one, improved to 2-0 while lowering his ERA to 1.82 through six starts. That ERA ranks third among pitchers who've made at least five AFL starts, trailing only Blue Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez (0.98) and White Sox farmhand Stephen McCray (1.59).
The 22-year-old left-hander's only blemish came with two outs in the first inning when he walked Braves No. 14 prospect Tommy La Stella on five pitches. He retired the next 13 batters and exited after throwing 45 of 66 pitches for strikes.
"I didn't feel like that going into the game, and then once I got going and started getting my stuff going, I started kind of getting into a rhythm," said Heaney, who used a fastball-slider mix with a changeup to keep the Scorpions honest. "When you start doing that, it feels good. I wouldn't say it was the best stuff I've necessarily had, but I had a good rhythm going and I felt good with all three of my pitches."
It was the breaking ball in particular that the Oklahoma State product said was key to his success.
"When I have my slider working, it helps a lot," he said. "I can throw a pitch out of the zone and feel like I can get a swing and miss and be comfortable throwing that in all counts. That was what was big for me today. That was my second pitch, whereas in games before it kind of felt like I would go to the changeup first and my slider was my third-best pitch. Today it was my best, so that definitely helps."
White Sox right-hander Kevin Vance kept the no-hitter intact with a perfect sixth before Jarret Martin (Dodgers) gave up a leadoff infield single to Elmer Reyes in the seventh.
"It would've been cool if we could have done it as a team, but it's not like I was thinking about it just for myself," Heaney said. "But, hell, I'm the third guy in three days to do that. [Jamie Walczak] did it for five innings and then last night [Alex Meyer] did it for 5 1/3 or 5 2/3 or whatever it was. I guess it wasn't even anything that cool, really. It's cool when we're all rolling like that and pitching well."
Heaney's successful AFL stint comes as a relief to a pitcher whose start to the year wasn't exactly ideal. The 2012 first-round pick suffered a lat strain in a simulated game last offseason, an injury that forced him to miss the first two months of what was supposed to be his first full season in the Minor Leagues.
Once he joined Class A Advanced Jupiter, Heaney proved rather effective, especially toward the end of his Florida State League tenure, when he didn't allow a run over 27 innings in his final five starts. He finished 5-2 with a 0.88 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 61 2/3 innings before moving up to Double-A Jacksonville, where he sported a 2.94 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in six starts.
With only 95 1/3 frames under his belt, the Marlins sent him to the Fall League to get more work in against elite prospects from other organizations. Given the success he's had in Arizona and Miami's youth movement, it's not completely out of the question to start thinking about Heaney joining the big league rotation at some point in 2014.
"Yes, I think about it, but realistically, I need to stay healthy all of Spring Training. I have to stay healthy and pitch well and then whatever happens, happens," he said. "But honestly, everybody thinks about it. They'd be lying to you if they said they didn't."
White Sox No. 8 prospect Marcus Semien staked Heaney to an early lead with an RBI double in the first and Dodgers farmhand Brian Cavazos-Galvez slugged a solo homer in the fourth. Marlins prospect Brent Keys went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored out of the leadoff spot for the Desert Dogs.
Reyes scored both runs for the Scorpions, who have lost three in a row.