The Tampa Bay Times reports Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell underwent a nerve decompression procedure to his right elbow on Wednesday, May 20th. He began to feel some arm weakness while throwing bullpen sessions in April.
Despite being out of live games due to injury for over two years now, Honeywell maintains a positive outlook on the situation. In a quick Twitter chat he said he appreciated the DRaysBay community for their support and that he “feels really good” about the surgery.
Pitching Coach Kyle Snyder is hopeful Honeywell will be throwing off a mound before the end of this season, which would align with a healthy start to the 2021 season.
Prior to his three surgeries over the last 2+ years, Honeywell was one of the top prospects in baseball, ranking as high as #11 overall for Baseball Prospectus going into 2018. When healthy, he has multiple wipeout pitches. No longer just “the guy with the screwball”, Honeywell established himself as a future major league starter with as many as 5 above-average pitches and an ability to pitch deep into games.
The Rays currently boast one of the best starting pitching rotations in baseball. If the season started today, we would almost certainly see some combination of Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, Yonny Chirinos, and Ryan Yarbrough with 2017 4th overall pick Brendan McKay ready to step in when needed. With the major league staff all but set in stone, there is little pressure for Honeywell to rush his return. And given his medical history, his best path to the majors might in fact run through the bullpen.
For a guy who has yet to throw a major league pitch, Honeywell already has made an impression on fans, media, and other players. His former teammate Chris Archer reacted to the latest setback with optimism:
That said, 2020 is the last option year for Honeywell, so the Rays will have to make him a part of their big league plan going forward. They can keep him on the IL until healthy, then will have to be added to the 26 man roster after rehabilitation.
At his peak, he gave us these amazing performances, striking out phenoms like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez: