by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Tampa Bay Rays are known for developing young pitchers, with Blake Snell the most recent to hit the ground running. However could there be an even better prospect working his way towards the Majors? Often overlooked, Brent Honeywell was embarrassing Double-A hitters, leading to a promotion to Triple-A, and could be on the fast track to the Majors. How long will it be before he debuts? He may be closer than we think, so let’s take a look and get a better understanding of what he brings to the table:
Preseason – Rays’ #1 Prospect
Throws – Right-Handed
Age – 22
His first two starts of ’17 have been a continuation of what he did at Double-A in ’16, as he’s posted a 2.08 ERA while racking up 20 K vs. 4 BB. There was obviously nothing left to prove at the level, which prompted the promotion to Triple-A…
That statement may not be 100% true, as there is the fear that he could become home run prone given his lack of groundball stuff (0.75 career GO/AO). Pitching in the AL East, taking on the Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays regularly, that’s something that has to be monitored closely. We started to see signs of it last season (HR/9 of 0.80 and 0.61), and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it jump to 1.00 or higher upon reaching the highest level of the minors.
Is that going to send him spiraling? It’s not likely, considering the impressive five pitch arsenal he brings with him (as touted by MLB.com):
“Honeywell has a bevy of weapons at his disposal, with the ability to both throw strikes and generate whiffs with five distinct pitches. He throws his fastball in the low- to mid-90s with late sinking action and backs it with a host of secondary offerings, including his trademark screwball as well as a plus changeup. His feel for commanding his above-average cutter down in the zone gives him yet another out pitch, while his curveball represents a quality change-of-pace offering.”
That type of stuff will keep any hitter off balance, and he clearly brings elite control. You would think that he could move quickly to the Majors, but let’s not forget that the Rays kept Snell at Triple-A for 21 total starts (split between ’15 and ’16) before bringing him to the Majors. He did have control questions, so it’s not a perfect parallel, but don’t consider it a given that Honeywell comes quickly.
When he does arrive he should produce immediately, but it may be more likely we see him come 2018.
Current Grade – A-
Upside Grade – A
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs