Marlins' top prospect Heaney stays on rise
Southpaw battling for rotation spot after impressive season in 2013
JUPITER, Fla. -- A strained lat could have derailed Andrew Heaney's 2013 season. Instead, it just delayed what turned into a rewarding year.
Ranked by MLB.com as the Marlins' No. 1 pitching prospect, the left-hander dominated at three levels last year -- Class A Advanced Jupiter, Double-A Jacksonville and the Arizona Fall League.
"Getting hurt is never fun," the 22-year-old said. "You have to take the positives out of it, even if it is an injury."
The positives are Heaney overcame adversity and showed why he is so highly touted.
In camp as a non-roster invitee, Heaney is considered a long shot to win a rotation shot. But the fact remains he has a shot, if he shows he is ready.
A number of teams are showing a willingness to give their young pitchers big league shots. Due to injuries, the Marlins promoted Jose Fernandez from Class A to the Majors.
Yet, even without the injuries, Fernandez showed he was ready to make the jump on Opening Day.
The Cardinals are another example, bringing up Michael Wacha late in the season.
Fernandez was the 14th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, while Heaney and Wacha were first-rounders in 2012.
Miami selected Heaney with the ninth overall pick, and St. Louis took Wacha at No. 19.
"I think teams are obviously going with younger and younger guys," Heaney said. "You can see it with Fernandez, maybe that might spur more teams to consider bringing guys up younger.
"I think sometimes we get caught up on how quickly you get up there. You see the guys like Fernandez and Wacha just dominating at that level. You don't notice the guys who get called up early, but get sent down. They kind of get lost in the shuffle. I understand why they have to be careful about bringing guys up too quickly."
Performance and health are keys for Heaney.
If he shows he is ready to make the leap, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound lefty could surprise and win a rotation spot.
Heaney also has to stay healthy.
Last spring, Heaney strained the lat on his left side in a simulated game early in camp, and it led to him going on the disabled list.
"Strength-wise, it's obviously big for me," Heaney said. "I'm a slender guy. You can't predict what injury you're going to have or whatever. But any little injury, you just stay on top of it."
Marmol embraces new opportunity in Miami
JUPITER, Fla. -- What happened a year ago, Carlos Marmol is eager to leave in the past.
The 31-year-old welcomes a fresh start in a different role with the Marlins. He's moving on from the frustrations that plagued him with the Cubs.
In Chicago, Marmol compiled 117 saves in 145 opportunities. They weren't always a thing of beauty.
Command issues have persisted, which led to him being traded to the Dodgers last year.
In 52 games overall, the right-hander was 2-4 with a 4.41 ERA, while converting two of five save chances.
Walks were an issue as he put 40 on base in 49 innings.
When around the plate, Marmol's stuff can be electric. He struck out 59.
"That is in the past," Marmol said. "I don't even think about it anymore. I'm here with a new team. I'm trying to do the best I can right now. This is a big chance for me to try to help the team."
Marmol, who signed for $1.25 million, projects as a late-inning setup option for closer Steve Cishek.
For a seventh- or eighth-inning spot, he joins right-handers A.J. Ramos, Carter Capps, along with lefty Mike Dunn.
"It's one of those things where everybody talks about. They ask where are you going to use him, in what situation?" manager Mike Redmond said. "I told a lot of those bullpen guys, it's really up to them, and how they pitch. The key for him is pounding the strike zone, throwing strikes, and getting strikes. If he's about to do that and is effective, then he will be one of the guys who will be an option for us late in the game."
The walks and wildness have surfaced throughout his career. Part of the problem last year was Marmol didn't have a consistent arm slot.
"It was a lot of things," Marmol said. "My mechanics, and my stuff. What can I say, it was a bad year. When you have a bad year, anything can happen."
Marmol pitched more effectively in winter ball in the Dominican Republic, and he participated in the Caribbean Series, which caught the Marlins' attention.
"It helped me a lot," Marmol said of pitching in the winter. "It helped with my mechanics. I feel great. This is a new team. I'm trying to do the best I can."
Mathis healthy, ready to assume any role
JUPITER, Fla. -- Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis is hopeful the breaks go his way this time around. Physically, they didn't really do so last season.
The 30-year-old sustained a broken right collarbone in the first Spring Training game of 2013, causing him to be out until mid-May. And while blocking a ball in the dirt in September, he fractured a bone in his right thumb.
Mathis is back at full-speed, and ready to take on whatever role is required.
"Everything feels good," he said. "I'm healthy, and looking to stay that way. I feel strong, loose and ready to go."
When available, Mathis handled a bulk of the catching duties in '13. He was regularly out there when Jose Fernandez was on the mound.
With the signing of free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, however, Mathis now becomes a backup.
"Whenever they throw me in there, I'm going to be ready," Mathis said. "That's how I prepare myself every year. It doesn't change with [Saltalamacchia] being here."
A number of offseason moves have added big league experience to a youthful squad that endured growing pains in 2013.
"We've been through some adversity, baseball adversity, and injury adversity," Mathis said. "But we didn't give up last year. That's something that was impressive. We kept battling and battling, which is goof a young team. There are a lot of things you can take out of it. Hopefully, we don't go through that again this year."
• The Marlins wrapped up Monday workouts just before noon ET due to the first of two days of organizational meetings. All 125 people in the baseball operations department were brought to Jupiter to meet, and exchange ideas. This is the first time the club has done this, to bring in its scouts who are dispersed around the country to watch the big league club work out for a couple of days.
The Marlins will follow the same schedule on Tuesday with workouts from 9:30 a.m. to about noon, for the second set of meetings.
• There is nothing new regarding the visa issues that have thus far kept relievers Henry Rodriguez and Jesus Sanchez from reporting to camp. Because it is a governmental issue, the team isn't exactly sure when either will arrive.