Righthander Brent Honeywell has the talent to pitch in the major leagues. And the 22-year-old certainly has the confidence, which he has made clearly obvious since the Rays made him a supplemental second-round pick in 2014.
Following a 2017 season that included inconsistent performance—including a 3.64 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Durham—the Rays will decide if he is truly ready. After adding Honeywell to the 40-man roster in November, the Rays see plenty of positive attributes.
“Where do you start,” senior vice president Chaim Bloom said. “This guy, I think you have to start with what he does on the mound. He has a really deep arsenal. He’s kind of famous for his screwball, but really you could take that away completely and he’d still be an elite prospect.
“The guy has the stuff to dominate hitters at the major league level and certainly has the mindset to do it. He believes very strongly in himself. He keeps things interesting. That’s the type of personality you want when you think about having somebody 60 feet, six inches away from some of the best hitters in the world.”
Despite pristine ratios for strikeouts (11.3 per nine innings) and walks (2.3), Honeywell had an up-and-down season. He won MVP honors at the Futures Game, but on the other hand, he received a four-game late-August suspension for reportedly being disrespectful. He also has the frustration of not being a September callup.
As Honeywell heads to spring training, he figures to top the list of young arms competing for a big league rotation spot, whenever it opens.
Triple-A manager Jared Sandberg said Honeywell will have to show more than command of his pitches, however.
“The pitchability is definitely there,’’ Sandberg said. “The repertoire is definitely major league quality. There’s some maturing that still has to go into Brent Honeywell and his development.”
Sandberg said there were some positive signs during the season.
“He tries to live up to (his prospect status) and put a lot of pressure on himself . . . and he wasn’t getting the job done,” Sandberg said. “His fastball wasn’t that explosive (initially) and his strike-throwing ability wasn’t quite there.
“Once he started to trust (then Durham, now Rays) pitching coach Kyle Snyder, and trust the development process, his season really turned around.”