May 22: Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder tells reporters that the organization hopes Honeywell will be cleared to throw off a mound prior to the offseason (Twitter link via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). Suffice it to say, that seems to rule out any contributions in 2020.
May 21: The Rays announced Thursday that touted pitching prospect Brent Honeywell Jr. underwent a decompression procedure on his right ulnar nerve yesterday. He’ll start strength and mobility exercises next Monday, MLB.com’s Juan Toribio tweets.
It’s yet another arm-related setback for Honeywell, a 2014 second-round pick who has ranked among the game’s premier pitching prospects in each of the past five offseasons. The 25-year-old hasn’t pitched in a minor league game since 2017, however. He underwent Tommy John surgery after sustaining a UCL tear in spring 2018, and he fractured his elbow last June while rehabbing from that Tommy John procedure. Honeywell had returned to a mound early in Spring Training this year, but there’s now no clear timetable for when he’ll resume throwing.
Scouting reports on Honeywell tout him as a high-impact starter — one who possesses a legitimate five-pitch mix, with each offering carrying average or better potential. One of the few pitchers in today’s game tossing a legitimate screwball, Honeywell has long been considered a potentially vital cog to the Rays’ future pitching plans, but his arm simply hasn’t cooperated. When he’s been healthy enough to take the mound, Honeywell has turned in 416 innings of 2.88 ERA ball with 9.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9 and a ground-ball rate near 41 percent.
The Rays obviously have ample pitching depth. Their five-man rotation would consist of Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough. Beyond that quintet lies a quality stock of secondary options including Brendan McKay, Anthony Banda, Trevor Richards and Jalen Beeks. Southpaw Shane McClanahan, the No. 31 pick in 2018, isn’t too far behind that group. That said, few arms in that bunch can match Honeywell’s ceiling, making the latest bout of uncertainty regarding his health all the more difficult for the organization.