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Rays look for more focus from top prospect Honeywell

Matt Moore, left, chats with prospect Brent Honeywell, who’s likely to open at Port Charlotte.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Matt Moore, left, chats with prospect Brent Honeywell, who’s likely to open at Port Charlotte.

ST. PETERSBURG — Brent Honeywell has the kind of stuff, including an unusual and impressive screwball, to be a quality major-league starter and the confidence to believe he can do so sooner rather than later.

But for him to get there, the Rays say the 20-year-old right-hander, one of 20 prospects taking part in this week's winter development camp, has to realize how tough the path can be.

"He has good stuff, and he needs to work on focus, which (coordinators Dewey Robinson) and (Dick Bosman) and all our pitching coaches will help," farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "Sometimes I think he thinks it's easy. And it won't be. But he has the stuff once he gets over that hurdle of focusing more, he can be a really good pitcher.

"He has that stuff. He has that acumen. We're working on that maturation part a little bit. … He has that right raw resource, but now we have to refine it. It's like that tobacco leaf — we're trying to make it into a Cuban cigar, we have to roll it right."

Honeywell, a second-round pick in 2014, was 9-6 with a 3.18 ERA last season at Class A Bowling Green (4-4, 2.91) and advanced Class A Charlotte (5-2, 3.44), where is likely to start 2016.

"I had a fun year," he said. "I did go through a bunch of ups and downs. I got down to Port Charlotte and my first two games I got smoked, and everybody was (saying), 'How do you bounce back from that?' But you learn. It's what you learn on the way up that develops you into being a big-league pitcher."

ARBED UP: With a majors-most 10 players filing for arbitration, the Rays will be negotiating today expecting to get most, if not all, signed before Friday's exchange of figures. Under team policy, talks are cut off at that point and the sides proceed to a hearing to determine the 2016 salary.

MISCELLANY: After missing the 2015 season due to right knee surgery, INF Jake Hager said he is set to return "with no limits" and will head to Double-A Montgomery. … C Nick Ciuffo, whose stint in the Australian league ended early due to a broken finger, has been cleared for the start of spring training. … After Wednesday's workout at the Trop, the players toured the Bucs' facility and visited with kids at the Sulphur Springs YMCA. … The Rays were among 14 teams that scouted a workout in Bradenton by Kieran Powell, a former cricket player from Saint Kitts and Nevis. … SS Adrian Rondon, the former top international prospect who signed for nearly a $3 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2014, will head to Port Charlotte after the program ends today to continue workouts at the Rays' request rather than return to the Dominican Republic.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

Rays look for more focus from top prospect Honeywell 01/13/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 10:18pm]
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