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Heaney adjusts and excels for Jupiter06/19/2013 11:48 PM ET
By Jake Seiner / Special to MLB.com
The 1.07 ERA? Andrew Heaney says you shouldn't let it fool you.
"Stats can kind of lie," the 22-year-old said.
Even after picking up his first Florida State League win Wednesday in Jupiter's 3-2 win over Bradenton, Miami's 2012 first-round Draft pick, the ninth overall, was quick to point out that he hasn't been as effective as the numbers suggest.
The 73rd-ranked prospect on MLB.com's Top 100 missed the first six weeks of the season while recovering from a strained lat suffered in Spring Training. As pretty a picture as his microscopic ERA and 30-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio paint, Heaney's been frustrated with his brush strokes to date.
"It's been a little difficult getting back from the injury," said Heaney (1-1). "It's taking me a little longer than I thought to really hit my stride. I've been battling mechanical issues.
"I was just rushing a little toward the plate, cutting myself a little short. My arm wasn't getting up in a good position to throw to the plate and I was a little rotational. You want to be directional toward the plate. That was the main thing."
The mechanical malfunctions were causing Heaney's fastball command to waver. While he was still able to retire Florida State League hitters battling those issues, his pitch counts were building too quickly to pitch deep into games -- like when he allowed two hits and two unearned runs in only three innings at Brevard County in his previous start.
"When you're trying to get the team a win, and when I only go three or four innings, I'm not doing my job," Heaney said. "It's taxing on the bullpen. No runs over three innings doesn't do anything for us. Quality starts are really a pretty underrated stat, and that's what I was lacking."
Heaney's five innings Wednesday tied for his longest outing of the season. He added four strikeouts and walked just one.
His fastball command felt improved from the start, and he effectively worked his change-up off the heater for much of the game. The left-hander struck out Florida State League All-Star Game MVP Alen Hanson to begin the game, and added another strikeout to end the first.
He allowed his lone unearned run in the second inning on Elias Diaz's Little League inside-the-park homer. Diaz began the play with a double, but came around to score after a pair of errors by Jupiter defenders.
It was smooth sailing from there for Heaney, though, as just one more hitter reached safely. The left-hander said he hopes to parlay the mechanical improvements into further strides.
The strained lat was the first baseball injury Heaney said he has suffered, and the process of coming back from injury has been a new experience for him.
"It's a learning thing," he said. "You can learn from success and you can learn from failure and you can learn from having something shut you down for a month or two months. That's a challenge in itself."
After the injury, Heaney was unable to throw a baseball for three weeks. Once that period passed, he spent a month doing throwing drills. Wednesday's start was the Oklahoma State product's sixth appearance and fifth start since his return.
"I came to camp and I felt good," he said. "Everything felt right and smooth. Then you get hurt, you don't throw for three weeks, you rehab, then you come back and sometimes you lose your way a little bit.
"I kind of let some problems compound on me. Sometimes less is more and you just need to relax. I didn't do a great job of ironing out some mechanical issues and then I let them snowball a little bit. I was able to look over some stuff and work with [Marlins pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal] on that."