Minor league signings that could make the Pirates' Opening Day roster

Let's look at some Pirates' minor league signees that could make the team's Opening Day roster.

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Brent Honeywell

Brent Honeywell was once considered one of the best prospects in baseball. He was a consensus top-15 prospect in baseball in 2018, but injuries derailed a once-promising career. He did not throw a single pitch from 2018 through 2020, and when he returned, he had diminished stuff. But Honeywell has done relatively well in Spring Training, for what it’s worth.

Through 5.2 innings, Honeywell has allowed three earned runs. But on the positive side, the right-hander has given up just a single free pass while striking out eight batters. Honeywell is a rare breed of a pitcher who throws a screwball. Along with a four-seamer that sits 94 MPH, he also tosses a sweeper and change-up.

Last year, his screwball and sweeper were fairly effective, holding opponents to an xwOBA below .300. The latter had a whiff rate of 48.1%, the seventh highest whiff% among any pitcher who threw a sweeper last season. Batters, however, hit his four-seam fastball well with a .428 xwOBA and 91.1 MPH exit velocity against it. He also faced some struggles with his change-up with an xwOBA of .351.

Although Honeywell has some decent pitches, he struggled overall in 2023. In 52.2 innings, Honeywell owned a 4.82 ERA, 5.62 FIP, and 1.45 WHIP. Honeywell had an unimpressive 19.2% strikeout rate and a 9.8% walk rate, but he struggled greatly with limiting home runs. He had a 1.72 HR/9 rate. Honeywell was below the tenth percentile in both exit velocity (90.9 MPH) and hard-hit rate (47.8%).

Honeywell has done well in Spring Training, but it is still only Spring Training and the sample size is less than six innings. Prioritizing his best pitches, namely his sweeper and screwball, could help him improve in 2024. Honeywell is in the running for the long relief role and has done just as well as any of the other candidates.