Bad news for the Tampa Bay Rays as it was confirmed on Friday that top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell would have to undergo Tommy John surgery to fix a torn UCL incurred at a live batting practice session on Thursday.
Honeywell, 22, was only about ten pitches into his session when he threw a pitch and swore loudly before walking over to a trainer who accompanied him off the mound and into the clubhouse. The pitcher was reportedly aware of exactly what injury he had suffered before confirmation was given. In the aftermath of the incident, he was originally diagnosed with a right forearm strain.
The news comes on the heels of a series of trades and selloffs that have marked this off-season as a particularly difficult one for the Rays and potentially left the team severly shorthanded for the approaching season. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi was traded to Minnesota, outfielder Corey Dickerson to Pittsburgh, third baseman Evan Longoria to San Francisco and outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona. Souza is coming off the back of a breakout season that saw him set careers highs for runs, RBIs, stolen bases and home runs with 30. Longoria, a three-time All Star, had spent his entire career beforehand with the Rays, drafted with the third overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft and winning the American League Rookie of the Year, three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger Award. He leaves with the franchise records for most careers RBIs and home runs.
One of the most promising pitching prospects in the country, Honeywell is expected to be on the shelf for more than a year following surgery in what is another huge blow to the Rays. The pitcher was drafted 72nd overall in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft and was participating in his first spring training as a member of the 40-man roster en route to a Major League debut. His last season with the Triple-A Durham Bulls saw him post a 3.64 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 123.2 innings. He also played in the All-Star Futures Game and was ranked the number 12 prospect in all of professional baseball by MLB.com.