When the Rays took Brent Honeywell at 72nd overall in the 2014 MLB Draft out of Walters State Community College, some were scratching their heads. After all Honeywell wasn’t too highly regarded in draft rankings, coming in at just 195th on Baseball America’s rankings. It made sense that the Rays were taking a player with some upside that could also come at a discounted price. However, Honeywell actually signed for slightly above his slot value, leading to even more head-scratching. Since then though, Honeywell is quickly surpassing expectations.
In his first go at professional baseball, Honeywell has dominated hitters while pitching for the Advanced Rookie Princeton Rays. Through 33.2 innings, he has posted a 1.07 ERA, 10.7 K/9, and a 1.6 BB/9. Of course that has to be taken with a grain of salt because of a small sample size, but thus far Honeywell has been dominating.
Not only has Honeywell impressed with his performance, but his overall package of stuff already makes him look like a steal in the draft. Honeywell’s fastball sits in the 91-93 MPH range with some late bite to it. At 6’2”, 180 pounds he has room to add a tick of velocity in the future. Mechanically has a short stride, and if he can work to lengthen it he should also add some additional speed to his fastball. He features three secondary pitches- a changeup, a curveball, and an unconventional screwball. Of the three, the changeup has been the most impressive thus far despite the fact it was thought to be a developing pitch prior to the draft. It sits at 80-82 MPH with great late movement and deception. His screwball gives him a third above-average pitch along with the changeup and fastball. It sits at 75-77 and has flashed great late fade. It is more inconsistent than his changeup, so he will need to work on that moving forward. Lastly his curveball, which sits in the mid to upper 70′s, gives him another average pitch to work with. All-in-all, Honeywell’s arsenal is quite impressive.
Honeywell also has a smooth, repeatable delivery that allows him to get the most out of his stuff. Because of it he commands all of his pitches well. As mentioned he needs to work on lengthening his stride, and on occasion his arm slot can get a little bit funky, especially when he is throwing the screwball. That said, those are just minor tweaks that he should be able to fix as he moves up the ladder. Honeywell is also just 19 years of age, so there is more than enough time for him to iron out his kinks.
In the end, you can see Brent Honeywell becoming a number two starter down the road. He lacks the one plus pitch that would turn him into an ace, but his arsenal is already well-rounded despite the fact that he is still just a teenager. How he lasted until 72nd overall and was not ranked higher on draft prospect rankings beats me, but it is certainly a testament to the Rays’ scouting department. Of course, Honeywell is still in Rookie ball, so it will be a few years before we truly know how he turned out. But so far, the returns look promising.