Tag: New York yankees

Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

Brent Honeywell Jr. is Finally a MLB Pitcher

It was September 3, 2017, Brent Honeywell Jr. took the mound for the Durham Bulls in front of just 3,073 fans at Coolray Field against the Gwinnett Braves. He went 5.1 innings that day, striking out five and giving up no runs. His first strikeout victim of the game was Ronald Acuna Jr., another of the strikeout victims that day was first baseman Matt Tuiasosopo. 16 days later Honeywell took the mound against the Memphis Redbirds and the Bulls won the Triple-A National Championship.

In 2018 the Gwinnett Braves were rebranded the Gwinnett Stripers, Acuna made his big-league debut and won Rookie of the Year, Tuiasosopo was out of affiliated ball and retired after a season in the Indy ball circuit. Meanwhile, Honeywell was out the entire season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in Spring Training and ending up going under the knife for Tommy John Surgery.

Fast forward to April 11, 2021, Acuna is in year three of an eight-year $100 million dollar contract, Tuiasosopo is the manager for that Gwinnett Stripers club, and Honeywell finally made his long-awaited MLB debut against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. There have been 1,316 days between that outing at Coolray Field in 2017, exactly 1,300 since a game that counted, and his debut in 2021, and Honeywell had thrown precisely zero pitches in a regular season game.

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Throughout that time, Honeywell wound up undergoing four separate elbow surgeries and went from the guy with the most talked about pitch among prospects, his plus screwball, and flirting with being a top 10 prospect in all of baseball, to a guy MLB.com has ranked at the 19th ranked prospect in the Rays system.

Still, when he toed the rubber at the Trop on Sunday afternoon, it was truly a goosebump inducing moment for all that had followed his career, and he shut down all six Yankees he faced, two via the strikeout.

Despite only pitching the first two innings of the game, those weren’t without high tension moments. Austin Meadows was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the first, Honeywell was asked if he considered taking justice into his own hands, he replied “I think I took justice into my own hands and shut them down for the two (innings) I was able to work.”

The Rays wound up falling 8-4 and Honeywell was optioned back down to the alternate site after the game, but Honeywell has plenty of confidence he will be back, saying “I know I belong here.”

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

Predicting the 2021 MLB Season

World Series ChampionsToronto Blue Jays
AL PennantToronto Blue Jays
NL PennantLos Angeles Dodgers
AL EastNew York Yankees
AL CentralChicago White Sox
AL WestOakland Athletics
AL Wild CardToronto Blue Jays
AL Wild CardMinnesota Twins
NL EastAtlanta Braves
NL CentralMilwaukee Brewers
NL WestLos Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild CardSan Diego Padres
NL Wild CardNew York Mets
AL MVPMatt Chapman 
AL Cy YoungLucas Giolito
AL ROYBobby Dalbec
NL MVPFernando Tatis Jr.
NL Cy YoungJacob deGrom
NL ROYKe’Bryan Hayes
Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Bizarre Happenings in Spring Training

Spring Training of 2021 is as unique as there has ever been. Typically the oddities are limited to seeing minor league guys come up wearing a number in the 70s or 80s pinch hitting with the massive MiLB dual flapped helmet while listening to the announcers shuffling through their notes to try and find the player’s name. Instead, the minor league guys are wearing single flapped helmets and there aren’t any call ups for the day thanks to the limited number of players in camp, but the rest of the game has gone odd, here are the ones that stand out:

7 inning Games

The default length of a game this Spring is just 7 innings. With the previously mentioned limited rosters there aren’t the guys to fill out the 8th and 9th inning duties, so most games end after seven, which is just weird to watch MLB games essentially last as long as a local High School game.

6 Inning Games

If 7 inning games are odd, 6 inning games are downright bizarre. In no level of baseball are there games scheduled to go just 6 innings, except Spring Training 2021. A number of games have been scheduled to go just six due to pitching availability.

8.5 Inning Game

The March 4 game between the Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks was scheduled to go 8.5 games regardless of the score. The D-Backs happened to be up 9-2 after the top of the 8th, so the box score looks normal, but had the score been flipped, there still would not have been a bottom of the 9th!

Double Walkoff

On March 2, the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 after 6 innings thanks to not one, but two winning free passes. Bases loaded tied 2-2 with Christopher Sanchez in the mound, Riley Adams gets hit by the pitch to give the Blue Jays the 3-2 victory. One problem, the Phillies wanted to see more from Sanchez, so they allow Phillip Clarke to step into the batter’s box where he proceeds to draw a walk to walk it off….again.

Free Substitutions

Also on March 2, John Means got the start on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles against the New York Yankees. Means gave up a single, fly out, single, groundout, single and was pulled from the game in favor of Jay Flaa who got a fly out to end the inning. Fast forward to the top of the second, replacing Flaa on the mound was, yup, John Means! He after struggling with his feel in the first he took a breather then went back out despite having already been removed from the game and finished the second inning on his own, but only going 1.2 innings.

Box Score Glitches

So, this one is more of a glitch, or somebody asleep on the job, or both, but the Phillies-Yankees game from Sunday March 7 showed a bizarre scenario. DJ LeMahieu lined out for the first out of the second inning before Aaron Judge is called out on strikes for out number two, then it gets weird. I have yet to confirm what actually happened, mainly because I don’t want facts to get in the way of a good story, but apparently Zach Britton, the pitcher, “starts inning at 3rd base” despite there having already been a grand slam earlier in the inning and he was not on base, and he is immediately out at third. No explanation, not play-by-play just out at third. The box score after the game does not list Britton as having participated in the game, and the Yankees opened the next inning with Aaron Hicks, who was batting behind Judge in the lineup.

Predicting the 2018 MLB Season

Courtesy of Aaron Whelan

AL East

New York Yankees – The Yankees have the potential to put out the most impressive lineup we have seen in years, focused mainly around Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge. That said, Stanton is always an injury risk and Judge is a strikeout risk every trip to the plate. Gary Sanchez is as good an offensive catcher as there is in baseball, and may have the strongest arm too, but his receiving ability it downright poor. Drury is a good addition, but Tyler Wade is not a long-term answer at second and Greg Bird is out nearly two months. Having Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar ready to come up and contribute will be huge, but they are 21 and 23 respectively, so they are no sure thing to they will be reliable from the start. The bullpen might be the best in baseball, but the starting rotation is overrated. In the end, the hype train that is the Yankees will still win the division, but I don’t see a deep run in October and I think there will be a real race with the Red Sox for the division title.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians – Francisco Lindor is a legitimate super star quality player at short and they brought in power hitting Edwin Encarnacion to add pop to the lineup. Yonder Alonso is currently tabbed to play first which is a downgrade from Carlos Santana somewhat similar to the upgrade at DH with Encarnacion. They have a strong rotation and really good bullpen, but the loss of Bryan Shaw may hurt. In the end, I just don’t feel the Twins have quite enough to knock off the Indians at the top of the division.

AL West

Houston Astros – The defending World Series champions have only gotten better, if for no other reason than their incredibly young nucleus is a year older. George Springer-Alex Bregman-Jose Altuve-Carlos Correa is as good a top four as any lineup in baseball, and they all play solid to better defense to go with it. They also get a full year of Justin Verlander and have added Gerrit Cole who is currently slated to be their fourth starter, yes, fourth starter. They have a strong bullpen but another arm or two at the deadline wouldn’t hurt. The big thing that stood out this Spring was how long Kyle Tucker stuck around with the big league club. It looks like the 21-year old will start in AA, but he could be up late in the year and be a difference maker in left field.

AL Wild Card

Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox will come up just shy in the division but will win the Wild Card game. J.D. Martinez brings much needed pop to a lineup that simply couldn’t hit home runs last year. The outfield is as athletic as any in baseball, and Mookie Betts is a real MVP candidate. Blake Swihart looks to be an unusual super utility man that can also catch, which will be an interesting dynamic. They still have Kimbrel at the back of the bullpen and have Carson Smith to start the season this year. The top of the rotation is as good as any in baseball with Chris Sale and David Price to go with a solid number three in Rick Porcello. Opening Day will be a question for Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodgriquez, while Steven Wright opens the year on the DL before serving a 15 game domestic violence suspension. There is not a real need in the lineup for the Red Sox despite Dustin Pedroia opening the year on the DL, and Michael Chavis just may be able to provide the team with a big boost late in the year.

Los Angeles Angels – They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, and they brought in the most talked about player this off-season, Shohei Ohtani. Ohtani will be interesting to see how he works out as people may forget he is only 23 and is trying to be the first full time pitcher and position player in decades. He struggled this Spring, and anything he does with the bat is a bonus, but they really need his arm in the rotation. Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs at the top of the rotation is not exactly the best 1-2 punch in baseball, so the Angels still need starters and their bullpen isn’t great. In fact, a Rule 5 pick just may end being the closer at some point this season (check out more on Luke Bard on my post at Minor League Ball today). The lineup is much improved around Trout, bringing in Ian Kinsler and Justin Upton along with Zach Cozart. They still feel like they are a few players shy from being real contenders, and their farm system is improved but not enough to make a blockbuster deal, but there really isn’t a good fifth team in the American League.

NL East

Washington Nationals – The East is a much-improved division this year which may be the only reason the Nationals don’t end up with the best record in the NL, but Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper are big enough pieces in themselves to make the Nats a contender. They still have Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, and a full season of Sean Doolittle as their closer. Adam Eaton is back after tearing his ACL early in 2017 and the rest of the team is largely intact. The Nationals will simply be a force to be reckoned with this season.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs – No Jake Arrieta, add Yu Darvish, no Wade Davis, ok that may hurt. Ian Happ led baseball this Spring in leadoff home runs earning him the nod at the top of the lineup with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo being massive bats behind him. Kyle Schwarber is looking to bounce back from a rough 2017, and Albert Almora Jr. will try to earn a starter’s volume of playing time while splitting time in the OF with Schwarber, Jason Heyward, and Ben Zobrist. Unlike years past, the Cubs don’t have the options in the minors to make the big impact like Schwarber, Addison Russell, and Happ did, Mark Zagunis is a decent bat should the outfield not produce, but there isn’t much depth in the pitching pipeline. The gap between them and the Brewers will shrink, but not enough to knock the Cubs off the top.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers – Yeah, the division winners is pretty much stock, but that is because the top teams in each division is pretty clear. The Dodgers lose Yu Darvish, but he lost most faith from the Dodger fans in the World Series, and Hyun-Jin Ryu is far from the worst fifth starter in baseball. Clayton Kershaw is still as good as anyone to ever toe the rubber and Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in baseball. The broken wrist for Justin Turner will hurt to start the year, forcing Logan Forsythe into a starting role, but there is depth on the team with Kyle Farmer being and Austin Barnes both being rare catchers that can also play infield. Alex Verdugo will be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on as he will likely find himself in LA at some point this season, but will the power play enough in the big leagues? Walker Beuhler is as good a power arm as there is in the minors, but does his pitch mix work best as a starter or reliver? The Dodgers have all the pieces to make another deep run.

NL Wild Card

Milwaukee Brewers – Unlike the American League, the National League has plenty of good teams that will battle for the Wild Card. I had the New York Mets here at one point, I gave the Philadelphia Phillies a look, the San Francisco Giants are improved, can you really sleep on the St. Louis Cardinals? In the end I give the Brewers the nod not only as a Wild Card team, but I think they win the Wild Card Game. Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are fantastic additions, and Yelich plays a fantastic Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.

 

 

Orlando Arcia is an underrated shortstop while the additions of Yelich and Cain have made Eric Thames and Domingo Santana one of the best platoons in baseball. I have long been a fan of Jimmy Nelson, and if he returns to full health around the mid-point of the season, that could be a great addition while Chase Anderson has turned into a solid pitcher at the top of their rotation. Corey Knebel was once a guy I had tabbed as a fantasy monster about a year too early, but he has become an incredibly reliable closer for the Brew Crew. Brett Phillips is a solid outfield prospect, but with the depth already at the position at the big league level, don’t be surprised to see him moved for pitching help during the season.

Arizona Diamondbacks – The Zach Grienke velocity concerns are troubling, but the team is very good. The loss of J.D. Martinez will hurt, and there are few higher on Brandon Drury than me, who is now wearing pinstripes. They have shown faith in the man stepping in for Drury, giving Ketel Marte a 5-year extension, and they also brought in Jarrod Dyson and Alex Avila. None of those moves will make up for the power lost when J.D. moved to Boston, but they are solid pieces. Patrick Corbin is rounding back to form for at the top of the rotation, Robbie Ray is solid, and Taijuan Walker is still one of the more intriguing starters for me. Add that to new closer Brad Boxberger and Archie Bradley settling in as a high leverage reliever, and the pitching staff should be able to overcome the regression from Grienke.

World Series

Houston Astros over the Washington Nationals – The Astros repeat as they are one of the more improved teams despite being defending champions. They get past the Yankees in the ALCS as the Yankees just don’t have the starting pitching to keep up. The Nationals get payback on the Dodgers in the NLCS, but still fall short in six games against the Astros.

MLB 2015 AL East Preview

The AL East is as intriguing a division as there is in baseball. The two big teams in the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees both have massive needs. The Red Sox pitching staff is barely middle of the road, and the catcher who was expected to make each of them better, Christian Vazquez, is out for the year with TJ surgery. Meanwhile the Yankees have yet another old/injury prone lineup and the distraction that is Alex Rodriguez. Their pitching staff may be improved, but the depth in the middle infield, pitching staff, and behind the plate leave a lot to be desired. The Tampa Bay Rays trail only the Oakland Athletics in roster turnover it seems this off-season, but have an interesting squad. They open the season with several injury concerns, but if the young pitching staff can stay healthy and pitch up to their potential, it could be the best staff in the East by far. The Baltimore Orioles are still waiting on Matt Wieters to come all the way back from TJ and JJ Hardy will enter the year on the DL. Chris Davis has one game left on his suspension, but he has a therapeutic exemption to go back on Adderall so time will tell if he returns to his 2013 form. The Toronto Blue Jay will roll out six rookies with major roles to start the season. All have tremendous upside (except maybe Devon Travis who just has solid upside) but there is obviously plenty of risk with such a young roster.

Projected Winner: The risk just might pay off for the Jays. They traded Brett Lawrie for Josh Donaldson this off-season, and signed the best catcher on the market In Russell Martin. Justin Smoak will look to resurrect his career in the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre, and there might not be a better trio in the middle of an order than Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Donaldson. If their pitching can hold up, there is a chance the Blue Jays not only win the division, but run away with it.

Is there a Wild Card, perhaps? Probably not, but there are some situations that I could see a team sneaking in. The division is rather weak as a whole, so if a team like Tampa Bay or Baltimore perform really well within the division, they could put up enough wins to sneak in as a Wild Card. The bottom of the division will likely be the Red Sox and Yankees, unless the Red Sox move some of their quality pitching prospects and outfield depth to improve both their rotation and bullpen. If they get a guy like Cole Hamels and a bullpen piece or two in July, it could be enough to catapult them up to Wild Card contention.