The future has finally arrived in Miami. Andrew Heaney, considered Major League Baseball's top left-handed pitching prospect, will make his big league debut on Thursday for the Marlins against the Mets at Marlins Park.
Heaney had been scheduled to pitch at Triple-A New Orleans instead, but the Marlins, who have been in the thick of the National League East race all season, decided to pull the trigger on him earlier than anticipated.
Miami made Heaney its first-round selection (No. 9 overall) in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. He entered the season as the Marlins' top prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Heaney, 23, started the season at Double-A Jacksonville, but after striking out 52 batters and compiling a 4-2 record with a 2.35 ERA in eight starts and one relief appearance, he was promoted to New Orleans. In four starts since, he was 3-0 with a 2.74 ERA. Batters were hitting .236 against him across both levels.
"When you get to Triple-A and you have success there, that's a pretty good indicator of where you're at," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I only got a short glimpse of him in Spring Training, but you can tell that he's special."
Heaney's first opponent is one who can likely relate to him. Right-hander Zack Wheeler made his Major League debut as a similarly highly touted prospect a year ago Wednesday, spinning six shutout innings against the Braves.
Since then, however, success has been fleeting for the 24-year-old. In a year's worth of Major League starts, Wheeler has a 3.84 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, with his sophomore campaign this season being particularly tough-and-go. He has a 4.38 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, while allowing opposing batters a .264/.344/.366 slash line.
Following two consecutive poor outings -- a combined eight earned runs in 8 2/3 innings against the Giants and Padres -- a matchup with the Marlins could be just what Wheeler needs.
Wheeler has posted a 1.42 ERA (three earned runs in 19 innings), 1.05 WHIP and .143 opponents batting average in three games against the Marlins. That's more success than he's had against any other team he's seen more than once.
The most recent of those games came just last month. Wheeler shut out the Marlins for six innings, allowing two hits but walking five. He also struck out seven as the Mets lost, 1-0.
Marlins: Miami lacking offense, but not wins, against Mets
The Marlins are batting .254 with 122 runs (4.2 per game) and 25 homers against the NL East, against which they have a 13-16 record.
Against the Mets, however, Miami is hitting .206 (39-for-189), and in six games, the team is averaging three runs per contest. Miami leads the season series, 4-2, following a three-game sweep of the Mets at home from May 5-7. The Marlins have gone 12-4 against the Mets at Marlins Park over their last 16 games and lead the all-time series in South Florida, 88-83.
At 24-14, Miami leads the Majors in wins at home. They were batting .272 in Marlins Park entering Wednesday's series finale against the Cubs.
Mets: Flores odd man out at shortstop
When New York recalled Wilmer Flores from Triple-A Las Vegas in mid-May, it did so with the intention of making Flores its everyday shortstop -- at least until he proved definitively that he could not handle the job.
Flores has indeed struggled offensively, though not defensively, in the role, but that is not the reason why he has started just six of the Mets' past 19 games. The real reason is that Ruben Tejada has emerged as a bona fide all-around threat, posting a .368 on-base percentage since Flores' callup, and Tejada has always been a stronger defensive player.
Tejada, who should be back in the lineup Thursday after ceding a start to Flores on Wednesday, has cooled off a bit at the plate in June. But he still hit .316 with an .892 OPS over one recent 17-game stretch, entrenching himself as the club's starting shortstop.
• Jake Marisnick has at least one hit in all three games he's played since being promoted from Triple-A New Orleans on Monday. In five games against the Mets in 2013, he went 4-for-15 and hit his first Major League homer against Jenrry Mejia on July 31.
• Giancarlo Stanton was lifted after six innings in Wednesday's 6-1 loss to the Cubs due to a bruised left wrist. The slugger is expected to be ready.
• Jarrod Saltalamacchia was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list, and he will catch Heaney's big league debut. Saltalamacchia was placed on the 7-day concussion list on June 1.
• Reliever Kevin Gregg had his contract selected, and will be available in relief in the late innings.
• Left-hander Dana Eveland recorded the last out of the Mets' 3-2 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday for his first save of the season and second of his career. The other was Sept. 5, 2005.
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.