We all know about Blake Snell by now. The kid is phenomenal and if it weren’t for Julio Urias, he would be the top lefty prospect in the game.
That’s what the Rays have become known to do. They take prospects and turn them into pretty effective big league pitchers. Take Chris Archer for example who was traded twice before his big league debut and has improved every season he has been in the bigs. David Price, James Shields, and hopefully Alex Cobb are some of the other names that come to mind.
Last season Snell was tabbed as the next great Rays’ pitcher. Hopefully we will see him pretty quickly on a big league mound this summer. If that’s the case, who is the next in line after Snell?
Brent Honeywell is certainly garnering recognition. It is rather deserving after his first two seasons in pro ball. The freshly-turned 21-year old righty was drafted in the supplemental second round of the 2014 draft and has excelled ever since.
He looked fantastic in his 2014 debut with Princeton in the Appalachian League going 2-1 with a 1.07 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP over nine appearances (eight of which were starts). He struck out 40 and walked just six over his first 33.1 innings. Last season, he saw time at both A and High-A, posting a combined 9-6 record with a 3.18 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. He still struck out nearly a batter per inning and kept the walks to a minimum, punching out 129 while allowing 27 free passes in 130.1 innings.
He has a great frame for a big league rotation pitcher, standing at 6 foot 2 and 180 pounds. He has a nice assortment in his arsenal highlighted by that mid-90s fastball and a screwball that MLB Pipeline grades out as a 65. His fastball consistently hits between 90 and 95 and some scouts feel that their could be a few more ticks added since he did reach 97 in his JC days. Honeywell adds a changeup and curve that are both well on their way to being Major League ready pitches.
The video below, provided by our friends at Baseball America, shows Honeywell’s fluid motion. He seems to have very little trouble repeating his motion. He comes straight at the plate, and quite honestly, makes it look almost effortless getting that fastball into the mid-90s. His delivery shows off his athleticism in how little he seemingly has to work to execute his impressive control.
One thing is for sure, is that he seems to have the backbone and confidence to handle even the biggest of big league stars. He didn’t hesitate to let Bryce Harper know via Twitter how he felt about his now infamous hat.
"Make baseball fun again" it must not be too fun being one of the youngest super stars. It must not be fun to face the best of the best.— Brent Honeywell (@brent_honeywell) April 5, 2016
Honeywell is only 21 years old. While he appears to be starting the season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Florida State League, it’s pretty safe to say he will ascend to Double-A rather quickly. We all know, however, that a quick rise to the big leagues is highly unlikely if the Rays history with their young arms tells us anything.
Most — including our own minor league expert John Sickels — sees Honeywell as a No. 3 starter with more than enough potential to be better than that. That’s not a bad floor with quite an exciting ceiling. It will definitely be interesting to see how and when Honeywell handles the next step of his very promising climb to the bigs.