3 interesting non-roster invite players in Pirate camp

It's worth keeping an eye on these three non-roster invitees in camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two
San Diego Padres v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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Brent Honeywell

Brent Honeywell was once one of the best prospects in all of baseball. In 2018, he was a consensus top 15 prospect. But injuries set in and brought Honeywell down by a lot. The right-hander missed three seasons from 2018 through 2020 and wouldn’t make his return to the mound until 2021.

In the last few years, he’s bounced around with Tampa Bay (the team that originally drafted him), the Oakland Athletics, the San Diego Padres, and the Chicago White Sox. Honeywell will now make a stop in the Pirates’ organization and will be in camp with the rest of the team.

Honeywell spent most of the 2023 season as a long reliever for the San Diego Padres, where he had a respectable 4.05 ERA but poor peripherals. The right-hander clocked in with a 5.23 FIP, 9.8% walk rate, 20.6% strikeout rate, and 1.54 HR/9.

Honeywell’s 90.4 MPH exit velocity and 46.4% hard-hit rate with the Friars was also below average, but at the very least, he limited quality contact with a 7.2% barrel rate. Honeywell was let go by the Padres in August and subsequently snagged by the Chicago White Sox. But he’d fare much worse in his final few outings of the season, allowing seven earned runs, two home runs, three walks, nine total hits, and striking out just three batters in 5.2 innings.

Honeywell still sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, topping out at 97.3 MPH. Although his fastball has about average carry through the zone, he doesn’t throw it with much break. His change-up also has about average vertical drop but below-average horizontal break, and his sweeper has below-average movement overall. But Honeywell is known for throwing a pitch very few other pitchers throw, and that’s a screwball that sits in the low-80s with 47.1 inches of drop and nine inches of break.

Honeywell could take advantage of his sweeper and screwball in 2024. Both pitches held opponents to a .211 batting average and a slugging percentage below .400. Opponents owned a meager .257 wOBA against his sweeper and a .306 wOBA when facing his screwball. However, both his four-seamer and change-up had a wOBA of around .380.

It’s always interesting when a team signs a former prospect of Honeywell’s caliber. I always root for these guys as they’re sort of underdogs to me. Of course, the chances that Honeywell ever reaches the potential he had in the late 2010s are basically zero percent, but there’s no harm in bringing him in on a minor league deal.

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