After writing about one hitter (Nick Senzel) and one reliever (Joe Jimenez), I’ll go with two starting pitchers in this article. Both of them were relatively unheralded prospects, that is until their consistency and continual improvement forced the baseball world to take notice. They are 22 years old, the #2 prospects in their organizations and coincidentally exactly who I think they will be as MLB pitchers – number 2’s. Neither of them has ace stuff, but rather a blend of pitches which they command very good. Essentially, they simply know their own repertoires and exploit them to the best of their abilities.
Brent Honeywell Rookie Profile
Let me start with the more interesting one. Not only because of the last name but also because he’s one of the very few screwball pitchers. That’s precisely why I added him to my prospect list 2 years ago. These are his numbers since that moment:
– Brent Honeywell RHP (20) 24GS / 3.18 ERA / 129K-27BB / .228 Avg against (2015)
– Brent Honeywell RHP (21) 20GS / 2.34 ERA / 117K/25BB / .221 Avg against (2016)
And they are accompanied by tremendous stability.
Honeywell was drafted #72 out of Walters State Community College. The school might have been why he was underrated and not seen as a very promising prospect. He was also fortunate to have been taken by a team which is good at being patient with its pitching prospects, letting them pitch and slowly molding them into big-leaguers. The way he has been throwing the ball for the past 2 seasons, it seems the Rays got themselves a steal. He is currently the #29 prospect overall (according to MLB.com).
Blake Snell had more upside of the two based on pure stuff, thus reaching the MLB faster. However, Honeywell seems to be the safer option. He doesn’t have Snell’s BB issue and although Snell might have more brilliant outings in his future, he will be prone to short ones as well, unlike Honeywell, who is much more dependable and unwavering. He’s a true baseball pitcher, plain and simple. The only concern is whether his mechanics will hold up, especially since he uses that notorious screwball. I believe they will, and if for some reason they don’t, he’s smart enough to make the proper adjustments and succeed regardless.
I don’t think Honey B will be a very low ERA pitcher, I would say somewhere in the 3.20-3.60 range. Add to that 5 to 8 K’s per game and the durability to hold up deep in games and you have yourself a very valuable member of your fantasy pitching staff. There’s nothing not to like about this guy. I mean he throws a screwball. How can you not like a pitcher who can throw a screwball (efficiently)?!
He had his first start this season on opening day for the AA Montgomery Biscuits. He went 6 innings and struck out a career-high 12 batters. He also allowed 2 runs on three hits. Those 2 runs came on a 2-out 2-run single in the 4th inning during which he loaded the bases. Still, an impressive start to a season in which he’ll try to climb to the top of the mountain.
Stephen Gonsalves Rookie Profile
The other pitcher I want to talk about is Stephen Gonsalves, who has done nothing but dominate since he joined the minors. These are his stats from the previous two years:
– Stephen Gonsalves LHP (21) 24GS / 2.01 ERA /132K-53BB /.198 Avg against (2015)
– Stephen Gonsalves LHP (22) 24GS / 2.06 ERA / 155K-57BB / .179 Avg against (2016)
Aren’t those numbers ridiculous?! Judging purely on them, he has been as good as any pitcher in the minors during this period of time (2015/16).
Stephen was drafted #110 overall out of high school. He was in the 1st round conversation until he got suspended towards the end of his high school days. The Twins were more than happy to pounce on the occasion. Like the Rays, the Twins are also known to be patient with the development of their pitchers. That has definitely helped Gonsalves. Knowing that he can take his time without the pressure of expectations, he simply pitched and grew.
This season he cracked MLB’s top 100 for the first time and is currently ranked #89 overall (MLB.com). He had 3 spring training appearances, pitching a total of 3.1 innings with 3 K’s, 1 BB and no hits allowed. Unfortunately, his throwing shoulder (which caused him to miss most of the Arizona Fall League) flared up again after that. He was supposed to pitch for the AAA Rochester Red Wings to start the season but hasn’t been able to recuperate in time, so he’ll begin the season on the DL instead. It’s the first injury he’s had and hopefully the last one.
Call me too optimistic if you wish, but I project him to be a 2.80 to 3.00 ERA pitcher, especially if he stays with the Twins. He will have plenty of strikeouts and although he might not be as durable as Honeywell, he’ll be good for at least 6 innings every start. Personally, he reminds me of Steven Matz, especially his build and body constitution. Hopefully, the injury bug won’t follow him as it has done with the Met. I believe Stephen Gonsalves is a pitcher who will keep proving doubters wrong for years to come.
These two are, first and foremost, quality start pitchers. They have been undervalued for a while, but that’s about to change very soon. I have them both in my fantasy leagues (as prospects). I can’t wait to see them make their MLB debuts and try to prove their worth. Considering they are playing for teams who are unlikely to compete for playoff spots, I think it’s more than likely they take their bows by season’s end.