One of the top prospects in the game, Brent Honeywell has also attracted a great deal of attention for his screwball. Should he have success at the major league level with the pitch, he may well change the game.
Every so often, there is a pitcher who rides one pitch to success and changes the game. In the 1980s, Bruce Sutter rode the splitter to a Hall of Fame career, leading to that offering being the pitch du jour of the time. When Mariano Rivera used the cutter with such effectiveness, that became the new pitch that everyone attempted to master. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
In the next few months, we may well witness the next pitch to come in and change the face of the game. Brent Honeywell has become known not just for being one of the Tampa Bay Rays top prospects, but for throwing a screwball. It is a pitch that he learned from his uncle, the notorious Mike Marshall, who once pitched in 106 games in a single season. Marshall taught the pitch to Honeywell’s father, who, in turn, handed down the family secret.
Now on the cusp of the majors, Honeywell could potentially ride that pitch to success. Although he throws the screwball approximately nine percent of the time, it is still a true weapon for him. That proved out in the Futures Game on Sunday, when Honeywell threw an absolutely filthy screwball for a strikeout.
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Right now, there are two pitchers in the majors that throw a screwball. However, neither Hector Santiago or Alfredo Simon use the pitch extensively. Yet, that was not the case, as pitchers like Fernando Valenzuela and Teddy Higuera relied on their screwballs for their success in the 1980s. Before them, pitchers like Warren Spahn, Christy Mathewson, and Carl Hubbell rode the screwball to the Hall of Fame.
Since then, the pitch has fallen out of favor, replaced by the cutter and an emphasis on velocity. However, teams are always looking for the next weapon, something that can give them or their pitchers an advantage over the opposition. If Honeywell can find success in the majors with his screwball, that could lead to a renaissance for the offering.
Brent Honeywell may well be set to change the face of baseball, at least on the mound. The screwball may come back from the pages of history due to the right arm of one of the Rays top prospects.