A head-spinning turn of events at baseball’s winter meetings this week was a source of amusement for Andrew Heaney, the highly touted pitching prospect who was traded from the Miami Marlins to the Dodgers to the Angels within a span of about five minutes.
“Well, Dodgers, we had a good run!” Heaney joked on his Twitter account. “Great to be part of such a storied franchise. #thanksforthememories.”
As of mid-day Friday, the comment had been re-tweeted 6,300 times and favorited 7,200 times, a social-media response that has the 23-year-old left-hander a little worried.
“It kind of blew up, and now everyone expects me to be this really funny guy,” Heaney said Friday during a conference call. “… All those new followers I just picked up are going to be really disappointed.”
Reports of Heaney being packaged in a deal for Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon and pitcher Dan Haren began to circulate at the winter meetings Wednesday afternoon, but Heaney did not receive word from Marlins General Manager Mike Hill that the trade was official until later that night.
Hill then called Heaney right back to tell him he’d been traded from the Dodgers to the Angels for veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick. Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto followed up with a call welcoming Heaney to the club.
“It was a little strange, a little crazy, the way it happened,” Heaney said. “I never actually spoke to anyone with the Dodgers.”
Heaney said he “tried to remain level-headed,” realizing that no matter what team he went to, his winter objectives were the same: to improve, to add strength to his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame so he can better withstand the rigors of a full season, and to enter camp with the intention of winning a rotation spot.
“I didn’t have time to really process where I might stand with the Dodgers, but as soon as I found out I was going to the Angels, I put myself in that same position, thinking that I’m coming in to compete for a spot,” Heaney said. “I’m excited. Any time you’re traded, the team that’s getting you obviously sees something in you.”
In Heaney, a first-round pick (ninth overall) of the Marlins out of Oklahoma State in 2012, the Angels see a pitcher whose polished delivery and effective repertoire (91-mph fastball, slider, changeup) could eventually pair well with fellow Oklahoma native Garrett Richards at the top of the rotation.
Heaney went 9-6 with a 3.28 earned run average, 143 strikeouts and 36 walks in 137 1/3 innings between double-A and triple-A last season and got his first taste of the big leagues, going 0-3 with a 5.83 ERA and six homers allowed in seven games, five of them starts.
“Unfortunately, I learned a lot more of what not to do than what to do,” Heaney said of his brief big-league stint. “I didn’t feel like I was at my best at the time, but I’m a little bit glad. Sometimes being humbled, a little bit shaken, having some disappointment, can be good for you.
“Everyone says to keep the ball down—you hear that all time—but when you give up some homers, it starts to sink in a lot more. To experience some ups and downs, to go through that roller coaster emotionally and physically, was a learning experience.”
Heaney said he went through a “dead-arm” period for the first time in his career last season. He hopes to avoid that by adding strength this winter and maintaining his weight during the season.
“I don’t have any concerns as far as my arm hanging in there,” Heaney said. “Hopefully, I’ll get some man-muscle here eventually and keep growing into my body, but that’s always been a challenge. I’m a taller, slender guy. There’s no getting around it. But I think I can definitely make the most of what I’ve got.”
Follow Mike DiGiovann on Twitter @MikeDiGiovana