Brent Honeywell
Brent Honeywell
25-Year-Old PitcherP
Tampa Bay Rays
Injury Elbow
Est. Return 3/15/2021
2021 Fantasy Outlook
Honeywell has not thrown a competitive pitch in a professional baseball game in three seasons. He tore his UCL in 2018, fractured his elbow in 2019 and had to have nerve decompression surgery in 2020. We've never had a pitcher make it back to the major leagues who has had both Tommy John surgery and subsequently dealt with an elbow fracture. Honeywell is trying to change that history, and if he does so, it will likely be done as a reliever. We don't know if Honeywell will still use his famous screwball, but he has enough stuff without it to work as a serviceable reliever should his arm hold up. He was pitching in the taxi squad camp in 2020, so there is a glimmer of hope for him yet. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a one-year contract with the Rays in March of 2018.
Progressing from elbow procedure
PTampa Bay Rays  AAA
March 4, 2021
Manager Kevin Cash said Honeywell (elbow) will throw bullpen sessions Friday and early next week before the Rays decide on the next step in his rehab program, Steve Carney of Sports Radio 620 WDAE reports.
Honeywell is on the comeback trail after undergoing a procedure in mid-December to address mild discomfort in his right elbow. The 25-year-old is said to be progressing well, but the Rays are likely inclined to bring him along slowly, considering that he hasn't thrown a pitch in an official game in any of the past three seasons. Before requiring his latest procedure, Honeywell underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, another surgery in 2019 after fracturing his right elbow, and a nerve decompression procedure last May.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Honeywell has now lost two full seasons due to injury, but he finally got a bit of good news last June when he went under the knife to fix an elbow fracture: doctors checked on the integrity of his prior Tommy John repair and determined that his UCL was not damaged. The importance of that cannot be overstated, as the track record of starting pitchers coming back successfully from two reconstructive elbow surgeries is slim. The hope is that Honeywell will be able to begin a throwing program in January. Before undergoing TJS in February of 2018, Honeywell was one of the most hyped pitching prospects in all of the minors, one who threw five pitches including a rare screwball. Two years is a short lifetime in baseball, so it's hard to know what to expect in 2020. What we can reasonably expect: his workload will be extremely limited, certainly in terms of innings and possibly his in-game pitch counts as well.
There's always a first to fall, and last year, it was Honeywell. The screwballer left a Feb. 22 bullpen session with discomfort and less than 24 hours later, the severity of his situation became evident. He had Tommy John surgery less than a week after suffering the injury and missed the entirety of the season. Honeywell resumed throwing in July and would seem on track to be available for a sizable chunk of 2019, though every recovery is different. With a pitcher like Honeywell who throws so many different pitches, he's a greater unknown than most coming back from elbow reconstruction. When we do finally see Honeywell, it should be as a true starter -- the Rays ushered in the opener but Honeywell seems destined to head up the Tampa Bay rotation behind Blake Snell for years to come.
If the minor leagues were like college, then Honeywell took 50 credits his senior year when he only needed 30 to graduate with honors. The fact that the Rays seemed intent on not promoting their top pitching prospect became a bit of a running joke in prospect circles toward the end of the year, although it shouldn't have come as a surprise given Tampa Bay's well-established slow-and-low approach with pitching prospects. Honeywell certainly thought he deserved a promotion, and his frustration boiled over to the point that he ended up getting a team-issued four-game suspension in late August. A .365 BABIP inflated his ERA, but his 2.84 FIP illustrates how dominant he was as a 22-year-old in the International League. His deep repertoire and plus command separates him from most pitching prospects, but he lacks the plus-plus offering that most frontline starters possess. He suffered a torn UCL early in camp this year and will likely need Tommy John surgery, so he should be avoided in all redraft leagues. Honeywell remains a top 100 prospect for dynasty leagues.
Honeywell continues to enjoy a virtually seamless progression through the Rays organization, posting a combined 2.34 ERA and 1.03 WHIP over 20 starts between High-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery. His strikeouts were slightly down upon his ascension to the latter, but he otherwise was essentially producing at the same clip as he had against a lower level of competition. He has five pitches at his disposal and strong command of all of them, led by his plus screwball. His second best offering is a low-90s fastball, which also grades out as plus due to his command of the pitch and its late movement. All told, the ingredients of a high-end No. 3 starter are all present. The Rays are known for taking it slow with pitching prospects, but unique talents like Blake Snell and Honeywell can move at a more traditional pace, so we could see the Rays No. 2 prospect make his big league debut sometime this summer.
It is pretty easy to fall in love with Honeywell as a prospect, but it is important to have realistic expectations. He has three above-average pitches to go with above-average command, but he doesn’t have the one or two great pitches typically necessary for a pitcher to profile at the front of a rotation. Of course, in the lower levels of the minors, just having two above-average pitches and above-average command is enough to dominate most hitters, so it is no surprise that Honeywell posted a 3.18 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 129 strikeouts in 130.1 innings between Low-A and High-A as a 20-year-old. He covered two levels in 2015, but it would not be surprising to see him spend all of 2016 at Double-A unless he pulls a Blake Snell and shatters expectations, which seems unlikely. In the end, Honeywell is probably a No. 3 or No. 4 starter who could debut in the big leagues in late 2017.
Honeywell came out of the 2014 draft and did well in his rookie debut. He’s an unusual pitcher in that he throws a screwball, which is a pitch that is just about extinct in the major leagues. He throws in the low-to-mid-90s, and has the aforementioned screwball to keep batters guessing as he did when striking out 40 batters in 33.2 innings in 2014. He was ranked the fifth best prospect in the Appalachian League by Baseball America, and should be on watch lists in deep dynasty leagues.
More Fantasy News
Throws bullpen session
PTampa Bay Rays  AAA
February 19, 2021
Manager Kevin Cash said Honeywell (elbow) looked good in a short bullpen session Friday, Neil Solondz of the Rays Radio Network reports.
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Undergoes minor procedure
PTampa Bay Rays  AAA
December 17, 2020
Honeywell (elbow) underwent a minor procedure Thursday that isn't expected to impact his availability for 2021, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
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Added to 60-man pool
PTampa Bay Rays  AAA
August 28, 2020
Honeywell (elbow) was added to the Rays' 60-man player pool Friday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
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Throws live BP
PTampa Bay Rays  AAA
August 13, 2020
Honeywell (elbow) threw live batting practice Tuesday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
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Optimistic following latest setback
PTampa Bay Rays  AAA
May 25, 2020
Honeywell, who underwent a decompression procedure on his right elbow Wednesday, is reportedly in good spirits and aiming to throw off a mound by fall, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
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