Bulls pitcher Brent Honeywell wins Futures Game MVP

First pitcher, second Bulls player to win MVP at All-Star showcase

Jasen Vinlove—X02835
Jul 9

For the 19th straight time, MLB opened the All-Star Break with a game showcasing the best prospects in minor league baseball. For the first time, a pitcher won the game’s MVP award.Bulls starter Brent Honeywell pitched two shutout innings to start Team USA’s 7-6 win over the World Team in the MLB Futures Game at Miami’s Marlins Park on Sunday. With four strikeouts and just one hit allowed, Honeywell won the Larry Doby Award as the game’s best player.”This is actually the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” Honeywell said in a postgame press conference. “I’ve been in All Star Games before, but I don’t think I’ve ever won a real MVP.”Honeywell becomes the second player to win the award as a member of the Durham Bulls. Catcher Toby Hall represented the team at the 2001 game and took home the MVP. Sean Burroughs, who won MVP in the 2000 game and Hank Conger, who won in 2010, both played for the Bulls after their MVP performances — Burroughs in 2006 and Conger last season.Honeywell also joins a list of winners that includes five players who went on to make MLB All-Star teams: Alfonso Soriano, Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore, Aaron Hill and Billy Butler.Heading into the weekend, Honeywell was just looking for a chance to start the game. He had the pedigree. Voted the second-best prospect in the Tampa organization by MLB, Honeywell is second in the International League with 99 strikeouts and tied for third with eight wins.In his last start before the break, on July 4, he struck out nine batters in six shutout innings, leading Durham to a 1-0 win and showing that he was hitting another level. “It’s about time,” Honeywell said after the game.The performance, and the four days rest before the Futures Game gave him hope that he’d be given the ball to start. “I’d like to have the chance,” he said before leaving Durham. “The timing works out.”Former Marlins catcher Charles Johnson was the manager of the U.S. team—Bulls manager Jared Sandberg was one of Johnson’s coaches—and made the decision that Honeywell would get the start.”I thank them for letting me do this,” Honeywell said afterward. “I appreciate C.J. letting me start the game.”Honeywell retired Charlotte’s Yoan Moncada—the top prospect in all of the minor leagues and MVP of last year’s game—to open the contest, then struck out Dodgers’ prospect Alex Verdugo on a screwball.Honeywell is one of the few pitchers in the minors to throw a screwball, and he used it for the only time in the game to finish off the dangerous Verdugo. Honeywell had already thrown a 97 mph fastball and a changeup, both of which Verdugo fouled off, when he went to the screwball.”With the fastball, he kind of looked like he squared it up, and I’d already thrown him everything,” Honeywell said. “So I thought, if I’m going to throw one, it’s going to be right here. If it’s good, it’s going to be the only one I throw, and it was a really good one. It was a banger.”Honeywell then struck out the Mets Amed Rosario, the No. 3 prospect in the minor leagues, to end a 1-2-3 first.After surrendering a single in the second inning, Honeywell finished off the World team with back-to-back strikeouts.In the meantime, the U.S. team put up three runs to earn Honeywell the win, as well as the trophy.”I got this huge paperweight thing,” Honeywell joked. “My parents are going to have to play rock-paper-scissors for it. I don’t know who I’m going to give it to.”