There is an insane amount of hype surrounding the number 2 Rays prospect (and top pitching prospect) Brent Honeywell. Although he has had some struggles to start his AAA career, he has been notching strike outs and getting outs.
If we look at what he is accomplishing in Durham, and look at some of the holes in the current pitching staff, we have to wonder: What are the Rays waiting for?
Is Honeywell ready to make the big jump after half a season in AAA?
Let's take a look at the numbers.
Honeywell has a fairly high ERA in Triple-A at the moment, but his FIP of 2.81, which is outstanding, is a much better indicator of his true talent than his a 4.00+ earned run average. He strikes out 29.7% of batters faced, thanks to a good arsenal (defined below) with plenty of movement, while walking just 6.5% of batters faced.
Comparing those numbers to a recently called up pitcher, Jake Faria, the stats are pretty similar, in his 2 seasons at Durham. Faria had a good FIP of 3.67, struck out 28.95% of batters , and walked 10.35% of the opposition. Faria flourished in his second season at Durham, prompting his call-up. Even though Honeywell does not have the same amount of experience at the AAA level that others have had, he seems relatively ready.
Ultimately, whatever the Rays decide to do at the July 31 trade deadline will help determine Honeywell's call up time, but it’s most likely we see him coming up and going to the bullpen. The only current Rays reliever with numbers close to Honeywell’s level of success is set up man Tommy Hunter.
Honeywell could similarly be a shutdown 1-2 inning guy (just like he showcased in the Futures game). We might even get the delight of few more caught-looking screwballs that mess with hitters.
He would also be quite a dynamic reliever. This graph shows that he is more apt to throwing his breaking stuff earlier in the game.
Honeywell becomes more of a 2-pitch pitcher as he goes through the second time, riding the plus fastball-change all young pitchers need to succeed as a starter, but in the meantime his skill set should translate well to the bullpen where he has the energy and the full arsenal to throw off hitters. A stint in the bullpen would give him some good major league experience, and get fans hyped up for the following season.
From there, depending on performance, Honeywell could move to the rotation or head back down to AAA for some extra seasoning. Either way I think that experience could help him in the long run, and be an in-house option valuable at the major league level now.
Of course, Honeywell would need to be added to the 40-man roster, but that’s hardly an insurmountable obstacle. At this point in the season we are beyond Super 2 considerations, so calling him up will not change his years of team control.
One of the potentially best arms in the Rays system is wasting bullets in Durham. If the Rays mean business, they should call him up.
What do you think?
When should Honeywell get called up?
This poll is closed
Now! We need him now!
Later this season.
Next year, needs more seasoning.