Revamped Rays dealt setback as top prospect needs Tommy John surgery

Big League Stew
Brent Honeywell will have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL, pushing back his major league debut until at least 2019. (AP Photo)
Brent Honeywell will have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL, pushing back his major league debut until at least 2019. (AP Photo)

In a week — and an offseason — that’s already been tough on Tampa Bay Rays fans, on Friday they were dealt yet another blow. One of their top prospects, pitcher Brent Honeywell, is going to be out of commission for quite awhile.

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The injury happened Thursday during practice while Honeywell was training that he called “unconventional” — he was throwing harder than he ever had before. But he doesn’t believe that was the cause of the tear, telling Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that tearing his UCL and having Tommy John was pretty much “inevitable”. And while the diagnosis didn’t come in until Friday morning, anytime a pitcher leaves field like Honeywell did, a torn UCL is everyone’s first guess.

Even Honeywell knew what had happened pretty much immediately.

Something like this happens every spring training, but it never gets any easier. Honeywell is a 22-year-old righty drafted by the Rays, picked in the second round of the 2014 draft. He’s the Rays’ top overall prospect, and is one of the top 15 prospects in all of baseball. Honeywell played just two games at Double-A in 2017 before he was promoted to Triple-A, where he had a 3.64 ERA and struck out 152 batters in 123.2 innings.

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This news couldn’t come at a worse time for the Rays. They’ve spent the last two months systematically tearing down their current team, trading Evan Longoria and Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson, as part of a rebuild so they can focus on competing in the future. And now part of that future has been dealt a major setback. Honeywell was projected to make his major league debut in 2018, but now the Rays can’t even consider promoting him until midway through 2019 — and that’s optimistic.

While the Rays find themselves in a mess that’s largely of their own making, Rays fans deserve everyone’s sympathy. They’ve had to say goodbye to the face of the franchise and two of the best players from the 2017 season, and now a truly exciting prospect will be out for the entire year. The 2018 season isn’t looking too bright for them, so hug a Rays fan today if you can manage to find one.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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