Heaney is not the dominating presence on the mound since he stands 6-2 and weighs 175 pounds. That weight is actually a big improvement for him since he was drafted out of high school weighing below 150 pounds. But, pitching isn't all about striking fear in a hitters heart, it's about being better than the hitter. This is where Heaney succeeds. You know that term "pitchability" that gets thrown around with guys like Jordan Lyles? Well, that's his calling card. He's smart and knows how to attack your weaknesses at the right time to beat you.
Because of his size, there were question marks surrounding his ability to be legitimate starter in the big leagues because scouts weren't sure if he could keep his fastball velocity and stuff going deep into games and rack up inning totals. Heaney finished the season out with a nine game stretch that left every scout no longer doubting him as he racked up a lot of innings in a short amount of time and maintained his stuff into the ninth inning on a few occasions. Heaney has flown up draft boards since and now is recognized as one of the best, if not the best, college lefty available.
He works off of his fastball that ranges from 88-92 and flashes 93 on occasion which is well above-average for a lefty. It's not a straight offering either since he brings it with heavy sink and good arm-side run. He uses breaking ball as an out pitch in which he gets hitters swinging or pounding the pitch into the dirt. I call it his breaking ball as it's most commonly called a curve but have seen it referenced as a slider. The changeup is developing but will be at least an average pitch. All three are at least average and can be at times above-average.
Mechanically, I don't see any major flaws that say he'll be an injury risk. It's an easy motion which you can tell from the videos that he doesn't have a lot of effort in his delivery. His arm slot seems to be on the low end of a 3/4 arm slot which lends to why his curve has been described as a slurve and slider. His motion also involves a little deception because of his slow leg kick and stride that lead you to expect a slower motion. But, that's not the case as he still generates some good arm speed that gets on you before you expect it.
Hate to say it, but a guy with his stuff has at least a job as a LOOGY. Heck, lefty's with his fastball alone can make it through a season as long as they have a show me pitch to go with it. He has the curve which is above average so he'll be able to handle the job. What would cause him to get here is that his body doesn't actually hold up for the workload of a starting pitcher. He gets here because he's not an injury risk and has above average stuff.
Ultimately, his ceiling is as a #3 starter or a decent #2. He's just not dominant enough to be a #1. He has the pitches and if the changeup truly develops into an above average pitch, this guy is going to move quickly through a system and be a solid contributor early. He could also be a late bloomer as far as body development. If he fills out a little more and hits 93 consistently, that #2 ceiling looks even more appealing.
Projected Draft Round
His late season surge that topped out in the Big 12 tournament has potentially put him in the top 15 picks. He's a first rounder for sure and something would have to show up between now and Monday to drop him into the supplemental round. He's just done too much this season to fathom him falling that far.
Will he sign?
I don't see why not. The questions surrounding the college junior have been answered so there's really not much to prove. However, he'll turn 21 on the second day of the draft, so even if he doesn't sign, he'll still be fairly young coming out as a college senior next year. I just don't see him improving his stock next year as he's already put together a solid body of work this season that scouts like.
Bibliography after the jump
Analysis: The best college lefty in the draft could go in the single digits; he's not that physical but otherwise checks all the boxes, including outstanding results with 109 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 93 innings in the strong Big 12 this year.
Scouts have always loved Heaney’s mechanics, as he has a clean and effortless delivery that he repeats extremely well, though his front leg can get a little stiff at times. His arm action is quick coming out of a 3/4 arm slot, and Heaney will even drop down to a near-sidearm delivery a few times each game to keep hitters off balance. The mechanical consistency has helped with his command, which is above average to plus with all three of his pitches. Heaney is a very intelligent pitcher with an innate feel for sequencing which, when combined with his stuff and command, could allow him to move very quickly through affiliated ball.
When Heaney was coming out of high school in Oklahoma, he and Chad James were the top prep lefties in the state and both were highly thought of. James went in the first round and signed. Heaney, because of signability, slid and went on to Oklahoma State.
Teams aren't likely to pass on him this time around. Heaney still has the easy arm action scouts loved in high school and he repeats his delivery consistently. He also has the chance to have three solid-average to plus Major League pitches. He maintains his velocity deep into starts and can run it up to 93 mph at times, plus for a southpaw. His curve is an out pitch, with sharp depth and bite. His changeup is very deceptive and has late sink.
He has advanced pitchability, throwing all three offerings for strikes and mixing them well to keep hitters guessing. Pitchability lefties always do well on Draft day. When they have good stuff to go with that, they get followed very closely.
Scout: Unfortunately the start I saw out of Heaney seemed to be his only bad one thus far this year. He was up with his fastball and had a tough time throwing it for a strike. His velo for his fastball was still there though, sitting 89-92, flashing 93 a few times with good arm side run. His slider, which is probably his best pitch he also didn't have command of the outing I saw. He could only throw it for a chase pitch and almost every one that he threw was in the dirt or below the knees. On the positive side however, the slider did have a good sharp break. He did not use his changeup that much, as he had problems controlling that too.
Other scouts I have spoken to about Heaney have been very impressed and see him as an easy early-mid first rounder, but I just did not see it out of him but my sample size is very small and I have no questions about his ability if he can still get strike outs without his stuff being anywhere close to where it usually is.