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Rays Top 50 Prospects: No. 2, Brent Honeywell

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Fall Stars Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Things with Brent Honeywell weren’t supposed to play out the way they have early on in 2018, but the next guy on our list hasn’t lost any talents because of his recent Tommy John surgery. If anything, it’s going to make him hungry to prove to everyone that he’s still one of the best MLB prospects around when he returns.

No. 2, RHP Brent Lee Honeywell Jr, 23 years old

Born: March 31st, 1995 in Carnesville, GA

Height/Weight: 6’2” 180 lbs Bats/Throws: R/R

Signed: by the Rays after being selected 72nd overall in the 2014 draft for $800,000

Twitter handle: @brent_honeywell

Twitter profile statement: “Professional baseball player.”

Baseball America Rankings

  • Ranked as the 8th best Rays prospect post-2014
  • Ranked as the 3rd best Rays prospect post-2015
  • Ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Midwest League post-2015
  • Ranked as the 9th best prospect in the Florida State League post-2015
  • Ranked as the 65th best prospect in MLB post-2015
  • Ranked as the 2nd best Rays prospect post-2016
  • Ranked as the 30th best prospect in MLB post-2016
  • Ranked as the 7th best prospect in the Southern League in 2016
  • Ranked as the 12th best prospect in the Southern League in 2016
  • Ranked as the 5th best prospect in the Arizona Fall League in 2016
  • Ranked as the best Rays prospect post-2017
  • Ranked as the 4th best prospect in the International League in 2017
  • Ranked as the 14th best prospect in MLB post-2017

DRB Writers ranking

  • High: 1st
  • Low: 4th

Brent Honeywell: Abilities

  • Confidence
  • The most varied arsenal in the system, including: plus fastball and changeup, above-average curve and slider, and a screwball

Grades for ‘18 (Pipeline):

  • Abilities notes: While the arsenal is great and that combined with the confidence required to be an MLB pitcher gives Honeywell a very high floor, many continue to debate his ceiling. Some point to the hits allowed despite a dominant arsenal (hitters hit .266 off him in Triple-A — albeit with a high BABIP of .365) as an indication that MLB hitters may have more success against him than others believe.

Joined the Rays by way of...

The 2014 MLB draft, which as it turns out wasn’t the best class for the Rays. Thus far, the only player from that class to make an appearance in MLB is Braxton Lee who was dealt to the Marlins in return for Adeiny Hechavarria.

Aside from Lee and Honeywell, the Rays dealt Casey Gillaspie (Triple-A) to the White Sox but still have high hopes for a few including 3B Michael Russell (Double-A), LHP Brock Burke (High-A) and C Zac Law (Low-A). As you can tell, a lot of the success from that draft class weighs on Honeywell’s shoulders.

Latest Transaction: optioned to Durham Bulls March 10th, 2018.

Facts, Honors, and Awards

  • Pitched for Walters State Community College, going 11–3 w/2.81 ERA and 102 SO.
  • An interview of Honeywell and Gillaspie chatting about their 2016 season can be found here.
  • Made the Milb.com Organization all-star team in both 2016 and 2017.
  • Ranked 36th on Chris Mitchell’s KATOH rankings for 2018.
  • Joe Frisaro of MLB.com noted Honeywell as being ready to take the next step before TJ news.
  • Despite being ready for next step, Honeywell was not in contention for a rotation spot.
  • Pitched in 2017 Futures Game, becoming first pitcher ever to earn MVP honours for the event.
  • Although Honeywell throws a screwball, it’s somewhat a controversial pitch due to what some deem to be major contortion demands on the arm. However, as you can view here, it may be just as demanding as a fastball. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Honeywell begins throwing that pitch again after he heals from surgery.
  • Want to know just how much Brent loves the hard-hitting and passionate aspects of baseball? Here’s a tweet that really says it all,

Stats

Brent Honeywell 2017

GP 26
GP 26
GS 26
IP 136.2
W 13
L 9
Sv (SvO) 0 (0)
H 134
BB 35
SO 172
HR 12
AvgA 0.255
Whip 1.240
BAbip 0.354
LOB% 73.6%
GB% 43.1%
FB% 34.4%
HR/FB% 11.1%

Stats Notes: While in Triple-A, Honeywell was much more dominant vs LHB (1.18 WHIP) than RHB (1.45 WHIP), mostly due to a .280 average against vs RHB. Something to look for once he returns is whether he can improve his performance vs RHB.

Interesting Comparison: Jacob deGrom

While Jacob has a few inches on Brent, they’re both RHP and both weigh in at about 180 lbs. But it’s the variety in the arsenal that really makes this one a good match (not to mention deGrom’s development into a dominant MLB pitcher).

Not only are their arsenals similar, but the velocities (deGrom’s here) are also similar.

When looking back at deGrom’s progress through the minors, it’s obvious that it took much longer for him to figure out how to be dominant than it did Honeywell. Still, there are some similarities in what they accomplished at the Triple-A level.

deGrom: 114 IP, 3.63 ERA, .273 avg against, 1.37 WHIP, 2.62 BB/9, 72.6 % LOB, 0.65 HR/9

Honeywell: 123.2 IP, 3.64 ERA, .268 avg against, 1.30 WHIP, 2.26 BB/9, 73.2 % LOB, 0.80 HR/9

Since then, deGrom has become one of the more dominant pitchers in MLB and we’d expect a similar outcome from Honeywell. And as a bonus in this comparison, we also know that deGrom also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, giving everyone hope that it will not get in the way of Honeywell getting back on track in 2019.

Notes for 2018 and beyond

The very first thing Brent Honeywell told staff leader Chris Archer after he learned of his Tommy John fate was the following,

“The first thing he said was, ‘I’m definitely going to throw harder than you now with a new ligament,’” Archer recounted. “‘Definitely.’ So he’s in good spirits, as devastating as it is.”

And that sets the tone for what to anticipate from Honeywell going forward. A no holds barred approach to baseball that aims to let it all out on the field and to take no prisoners.

That’s Honeywell in a nutshell. In the same way Pedro Martinez never backed away from his opponents or felt intimidated in the least while working inside if he had to, Honeywell will do whatever it takes to get the job done. And don’t expect an apology if he does run one too far inside.

The attitude it takes to make that happen can also get him in trouble, at times.

We may never find out exactly why he received a four-game suspension from the Rays in August of 2017. All we were told was that it was for “disciplinary reasons” for having been “disrespectful” Well, that’s kind of significant when put into context of a Triple-A team in the midst of a championship run. And when you add the seeming calling out of Chris Archer the following spring, you start to see a trend of questionable respect related events.

Having said that, if you’re building an MLB franchise and you can take someone into the trenches with you, Honeywell is the guy you want to send over the top to fight for your team.

Plenty of young guys — including phenom Bryce Harper — have had to learn to toe the line more than they’d like to when talking to or about others. We’ll chalk that up to youth and inexperience. And judging by his interactions with fans of all ages before and since those events, it seems that Honeywell will be a great ambassador for the team and MLB once he reaches the majors.

Getting back to the mound — where it counts most — Honeywell is a very intelligent and capable pitcher. He knows how to get guys out and is able to perform under the highest pressure. Those things are not going to change due to Tommy John surgery.

What may change is how often he throws some of the pitches in his arsenal. With that in mind, once his rehab is complete it’s likely that he spends time getting himself back into game shape in the lower minors before the season begins, but it shouldn’t be too far into 2019 before he’s back in Triple-A and ready to amp up the competition for a spot in the Rays rotation.

Good luck to those he’s competing with at that point. Because if he regains his pre-Tommy John form, he’s going to be hard to beat and will be a boon to the Rays chances of competing for a spot in the 2019 playoffs if what we’ve seen from him so far returns to form.

Brent Honeywell: Spotlight Videos

Recap and links of previously listed DRB Top 55 Rays Prospects

*Note: rankings were adjusted and reflect recent additions to the system - it is now a Top 55 list