Padres sign former top prospect Brent Honeywell

Credit: USA Today Sports

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The San Diego Padres reached a major league agreement with pitcher Brent Honeywell on Friday.

The Padres continue to make small, shrewd additions to their pitching staff this week. After signing Wilmer Font to a minor league deal earlier in the week, they have now signed Brent Honeywell.

The name might sound familiar to those farm system enthusiasts. Honeywell was a mainstay in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 overall prospect rankings from 2017 to 2020 in the Rays’ system. He reached as high as No. 12 overall in 2018. Tampa Bay drafted him in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft out of Walters State Community College.

Of course, being a highly-ranked prospect and being a legitimately good pitcher in the big leagues are two different things. Year after year, dozens of highly touted prospects flame out. However, his top-prospect pedigree is tantalizing. Perhaps Padres pitching coach Ruben Niebla can bring the best out of him.

Honeywell comes with a three-pitch mix- fastball, cutter, and a changeup. He even toyed with a screwball in 2021. He made three appearances in the big leagues for Tampa Bay in 2021.

The problem is his throwing elbow seems extremely vulnerable to injuries.

He had four operations on his elbow from 2018 to 2020. Then, ahead of last season with Oakland, he was shut down after an MRI revealed an olecranon stress reaction in his elbow.

He never appeared in a big league game for the A’s in 2022. However, he made 13 appearances between their Single-A and Triple-A affiliates, to mixed results. He has not thrown a pitch in a Major League Baseball game since April 24, 2021.

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Oakland granted him free agency following the 2022 season.

With it being a split contract worth less than $1 million, the risk is relatively low. However, if signing Honeywell means the Padres are out on the Johnny Cueto sweepstakes, that is a much bigger gamble.

This is very much an experiment. This is a one-year flyer on a once-heralded prospect with a long injury history. If it works out, Honeywell has all the ability in the world to be a big contributor in the back end of the Padres rotation or bullpen.

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