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Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Brent Honeywell Tosses CG SHO

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Brent Honeywell lowered his High-A ERA to 4.85 after his start on Saturday, but expect it to finish much lower than that. Honeywell, fresh off being named the Tampa Bay Rays’ top prospect from Baseball America, showed everyone exactly why he deserved that ranking. It’s easy to dream on Honeywell–we know that the Rays take their prospects along slowly, but is there any chance that they let him start next season at Double-A and have him ready as a bullpen weapon in September of 2016 before he debuts as a starter the following April?

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Triple-A International League: Pawtucket Red Sox 5, Durham Bulls 1

Matt Andriese continues to bide his time at Durham until another spot opens up for him with the Tampa Bay Rays. Andriese tossed 6 innings allowing 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 7 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was 6-3. Andriese doesn’t have anything more to prove at this point, but the Rays aren’t going to put him in their big league bullpen anytime soon because they need him to be ready as a starter. Another one of their current starters will likely need to move to relief when Drew Smyly returns, and while that starter could always move back to the rotation, it would be nice to have Andriese to start while the other pitcher gets himself stretched out again.

The Bulls’ relief duo of Everett Teaford and Jim Miller did not pitch well (see the score), but there were a few offensive highlights. Nick Franklin got the start at shortstop and went 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI. Franklin continues to deliver strong results with the Bulls and we will have to see when he is considered a big league option again. It isn’t as though Jake Elmore will really stand in his way once he’s ready. Bobby Wilson also went 2 for 3 with a runner caught stealing.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 2, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 1 (10 innings)

Tyler Goeddel drilled a walk-off sac fly as the Biscuits found just offense to win. Jake Bauers had the other RBI, but the notable performances came from Patrick Leonard, who keeps surging, and the pair of Johnny Field and Joey Rickard that continues to rebound from extended slumps. Field had a huge game, going 2 for 3 with a walk, 2 stolen bases, and 2 runs scored, and Rickard went 2 for 3 with 2 walks while Leonard went 2 for 4 with a walk.

On the pitching side, Blake Snell had a short outing but a very good one. He tossed 5 shutout innings allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out 7. We know about the scoreless streak, but he now has a 2.47 ERA since it ended. Regression to the mean is a relative term–Snell is just having a huge season. Mark Sappington allowed a run in 1.2 innings before Parker Markel and Matt Lollis tossed shutout ball to finish the game.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Tampa Yankees 0

There are different types of dominant performances. Sometimes you see a team just having the wrong approach against a pitcher and/or letting him off the hook early in the game. Sometimes the opposing team is getting unlucky, hitting line drives right at fielders and blasts that just go foul. And then there are the games where the opponents just say “You just have to tip your cap,” and for once, fans accept that as an answer. This was one of those games for the Tampa Yankees.

Brent Honeywell faced just 2 batters over the minimum, going all 9 innings allowing 4 hits and no walks while striking out 9. He erased a pair of baserunner with pickoffs–between the complete game and the pickoffs, this start was James Shields-esque. Honeywell also forced an 11-2 groundout to flyout ratio as nothing was being hit hard against him. The Yankees received a two-out double from Wes Wilson in the sixth inning and nearly broke up the shutout in the ninth. After a single, a passed ball, and a groundout, they had a runner on third with one out. But nothing was going to stop Honeywell’s shutout.

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Honeywell told MiLB.com that his screwball was really working after he had lost his feel for it for a while, and this is what happens when it is on. It’s a great enough pitch by itself, but it isn’t really fair for High-A hitters when they need to deal with it and three other offerings. The danger of having so many pitches is that it can cause a starter to not establish his fastball enough, but Honeywell doesn’t have that problem as he attacks hitters with a heater touching 96 MPH. Honeywell has had some issues with command since arriving at High-A, but if his stuff looks anywhere near as crisp as this for the next month and a half, he could turn himself into one of the top prospects in baseball.

Willy Adames supported Honeywell with a 2-run double in the first inning. Steven Souza Jr. went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored in his rehab game while Marty Gantt went 2 for 3 with an RBI and Andrew Velazquez went 2 for 4 with a run scored. Velazquez stole 50 bases in 65 tries at Low-A last season, but his caught stealing in this game gave him just 1 steal in 7 attempts. His speed hasn’t changed and hopefully he can get back to swiping bags like crazy with continued work at reading pitchers.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 93: Clutch Homers and a Note About Erasmo

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