In just his second full season of pro ball, the 21-year-old Honeywell comes to the AFL following an impressive run through High A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery, where the 2014 second rounder solidified his reputation as the Rays’ top pitching prospect with a combined 2.34 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and impressive 2.0 BB/9 and 9.1 SO/9 rates over 20 starts and 115.1 innings, evenly split between the two levels.
Honeywell was showcasing his aggressiveness with the fastball right out of the gate in his debut turn for the Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday afternoon, though the results were not as expected. Challenging hitters with his plus 93-to-96 mph fastball (T97) early, Honeywell struggled with his armside command, missing the inside target towards the middle of the plate and getting squared up for a two run homer by Jose Trevino (C, Rangers) in the first frame, and Corey Toups (2B, Royals) in the second inning, see video below) as part of a rough outing in which he went two innings, giving up four hits and five earned runs, while walking one and striking out one.
His fastball in the higher velo version showed late life and had effective boring action in on the hands of righties, and when spotted with command, it was extremely effective, breaking two bats in the process and getting swing and miss. He also mixed in a four-seam variation with some mild cut action in the 93-to-95 mph range, but again showed inconsistent feel.
His well-publicized screwball, which was in the 75-to-77 mph range, stood out more clearly from his changeup in this view, with the screwball showing the look of an opposite-hand, 1-to-7 shaped curveball with early break and late downer action. His changeup (80-to-82 mph) held a flatter fastball look out of hand before showing above-average late, hard tumble. In both cases he replicated the fastball arm action well, making for a tough combination for hitters.
It’s not worth reading into the command issue seen with the fastball in this viewing, especially given the 34 days of rest he’s had since finishing up the season with Double-A Montgomery. His mechanics were consistently smooth and repeatable, and his command should return to regular-season form in short order. He showed he’s still got some gas in the tank after a 115-inning campaign, so there’s no reason to think he won’t finish strong in the AFL to put a bow on an impressive season.