It has been a long time coming for Brent Honeywell, but Rays fans will finally get to see one of the most highly-touted prospects in Tampa Bay Rays history take the bump on Sunday.
First, how did we get here. Chris Archer was placed on the IL Saturday afternoon after suffering a forearm injury during his start against the New York Yankees. Honeywell was called up from the alternate site to take Archer’s spot on the active roster.
Now, Brent Honeywell’s story, and it’s a long one.
Honeywell was drafted in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Franklin County High School in Carnesville, Georgia. After signing with Rays Honeywell was sent to Princeton where he pitched to a 1.07 ERA in nine games.
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Honeywell spent the 2015 season between Low and High-A ball, pitching to a 3.18 ERA in 24 games, all starts. At the time Honeywell appeared to be on the fast track to the MLB, and began earning national recognition.
In 2016 Honeywell made the Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com list of the top 100 prospects in baseball. He showed he was well deserving of the honor in 2016, going 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA between High-A and AA.
Honeywell appeared on all three of the top prospect lists again in 2017, rankings 30th on Baseball America, 22nd on Baseball Prospectus, and 31st on MLB.com. At the age of 22, only three years after Honeywell was drafted out of high school, he reached AAA.
2017 also brought Honeywell a major honor as he was selected as a member of the USA team for the Futures Game at the 2017 MLB All-Star Game Weekend in Miami. Honeywell would go on to start the game for the USA, pitch two scoreless innings, strikeout four, and win the MVP award.
It looked as if Brent Honeywell was destined for MLB success in a Rays uniform, but that all changed in 2018.
Honeywell once again appeared on all three top prospect lists in 2018, reaching as high as 11th on Baseball Prospectus. However, during a live batting practice session in spring training of 2018 Honeywell tore his UCL. The injury required Tommy John Surgery, ending his 2018 season.
2019 was the last season Honeywell saw his name appear on all three lists, highlighted by a 23rd ranking by Baseball America. As Honeywell was rehabbing from Tommy John he suffered another huge blow.
While throwing a bullpen session in June of 2019 at the Rays facility in Port Charlotte Honeywell broke a bone his right elbow. This required Honeywell to receive another season-ending surgery.
Even after back-to-back season-ending injuries in 2018 and 19 Honeywell still appeared on Baseball America’s and MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list in 2020. However, Honeywell was not featured on the Baseball Prospectus list. Honeywell was 80th on Baseball America’s list, and 91st on MLB.com.
While rehabbing from another major surgery on his throwing arm, Brent Honeywell hit another roadblock.
In May of last year Honeywell underwent a decompression procedure on his right ulnar nerve. Once again causing Honeywell to miss an entire season.
I remember being in my car when I got the third season-ending injury alert for Honeywell last year, and it made me incredibly upset for him. I was selfish as a fan, because I wanted to see this guy pitch, but I had never felt so bad for someone I had never met.
This season was the first time Brent Honeywell wasn’t considered a top 100 prospect by any of the three major ranking systems since 2016. But that didn’t stop him.
For the first time in four years Brent Honeywell toed the mound this spring, pitching just a single inning against the Boston Red Sox on March 22nd.
And that brings us to Sunday. Brent Honeywell is scheduled to make his MLB debut for the team the drafted him in 2014 and stuck with him through what has been an incredible journey.
No matter what happens on Sunday, or going forward, Rays fans should get behind Brent Honeywell like no other.