It took but two Double-A starts for Honeywell – the top arm in the Rays’ system – to signal he was ready for a promotion, following a 10-start taste of the Southern League to close out 2016. In Honeywell’s 13 innings of work for Montgomery to start the season the righty struck out 20 batters while allowing just three runs on four hits and four walks. He has excelled this season at working his fastball effectively to the outer half against lefty bats, and then relying on both his screwball and changeup as his put-away offering. Against righties he has worked to bust his plus heater in on the hands while leaning on his changeup and curveball as change-of-pace offerings to disrupt timing, elevating the fastball as a chase pitch ahead in the count.
Honeywell made his Triple-A debut on Thursday night with mixed results, beginning with Max Moroff (SS, Indianapolis) ambushing a 2-2 fastball for a homer to kick off the bottom of the first after Honeywell struggled to put the young shortstop away with back-to-back screwballs. Honeywell’s in-zone command fluctuated last night, and his execution was not as crisp as he showed in his two Double-A starts, but damage was limited to Moroff’s lead-off home run and a two-run dinger by Jason Rogers (1B, Indianapolis) three innings later. Honeywell lasted six innings and struck out one over the course of the start, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk.
Given the limited heft to the heater and reliance on a screwball and changeup that float through the white when Honeywell misses his release, fly ball rates continue to be a concern, and they’ll remain a focus, particularly as the righty tackles advanced International League bats moving forward this season.