Bill Setliff / MiLB.com

Tampa Rays' Prospect Spotlight: Brent Honeywell

John Flanigan of HardballScoop.com profiles a pitcher in the Rays' organization that throws a pitch that is rarely seen anymore.

The “fadeaway,” a pitch that broke the opposite way of a curveball from inside to outside when thrown by a righty to a left-handed hitting batter. Today, this pitch in known as the screwball, a pitch that has all but disappeared in today’s game. Starters Hector Santiago and Alfredo Simon have the pitch in their arsenal, but throw it less than 1% of the time.

Former Reds' reliever Danny Herrera who last pitcher in 2011 and journey man righty Jim Mecir, who retired in 2005, are the last two before Santiago and Simon. One player is trying to bring the pitch back, that player is Tampa Bay Rays' minor league right-hander Brent Honeywell, who is ranked as the game's 43rd-best prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Tampa drafted the young righty out of Walters State Community College in Tennessee in the second round of the 2014 draft. Since then all he’s done is soar up the rankings. At age 19, Honeywell had a record of 2-1 with a 1.07 ERA in rookie ball, striking out 40 batters in 33.2 innings. In his second year in the system, the righty was already ranked as the #3 prospect in the organization.

He backed that up with a strong 2015 season between Class-A and High-A, going 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA and striking out 129 batters in 130 and 1/3 innings. After an even more dominant 2016 season, Honeywell is now the top pitching prospect in the Tampa system. Between High-A and Double-A, Honeywell went 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA striking out 117 batters in 115 and 1/3 innings. Honeywell figures to start the 2017 season in Double-A, however he could make an appearance in the big league rotation at some point this season. 

According to most scouts, Honeywell’s screwball is his best offspeed pitch. MLB Pipeline gave it a grade of 65 on a scale of 20-80. He pairs that with a mid-90’s fastball. That combination has helped him post a 3.19 ERA and a 8.93 K/9 over two levels of the minors. All-Star catcher Buster Posey claimed the screwball doesn’t exist in baseball anymore, but Honeywell responded to that by saying to give him a couple of years. For the sake of baseball fans, hopefully we get to see the 22-year old righty this upcoming season.

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