Rays ace and top pitching prospect trade public jabs, have an interesting relationship

Brent Honeywell is one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays farmhand is currently ranked no. 12 by MLB.com, who grades him as having four potentially average or better offerings, including a screwball that put him on the map in the first place.

If it weren't for Honeywell's screwball, his confidence would the thing known best about him. He believes in himself, and that belief benefits him in a sport as at-times defeating as baseball. But that belief can also manifest itself in ways that can rub others the wrong way. To some extent, it seems to be doing just that -- particularly with teammate Chris Archer.

You don't normally see a team's star exchange words publicly with (for the time being) a minor leaguer, but that's what happened on Tuesday. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times chronicled the kerfuffle, with Archer expressing his desire for Honeywell to -- well, stop talking so much:

"He talks a lot. I've already told him, until he gets some dirt on his spikes, he needs to keep it down a bit.  I'm excited to see him pitch, but you can't do all that talking without ever throwing a major-league baseball in your life.''

Honeywell, perhaps not one for reading the room, offered some choice quips of his own. This was the most biting:

"I think the biggest thing is for the ace of the staff right now to be the ace, you've got to throw up some numbers out there. Impress me.  Impress me.  I'm not taking any shots at anybody. I'm not cutting him down. But I think that would benefit in the best way possible. … It's time to go now. This is go time for him this year.''

The "numbers" Honeywell was almost certainly referencing are Archer's won-lost record and ERA in recent seasons. Archer lost 19 games in 2016 and has a 31-44 record the past three years. He hasn't had a winning season since 2014. He's posted an ERA of 100 or 101 in each of the last two years as well. Since this is 2018, it shouldn't need to be said that there's far more to evaluating pitching than referencing won-lost record and ERA -- and Archer, to his credit, looks way, way better through more meaningful lenses. Still, woo boy.

Topkin notes that both Archer and Honeywell spoke in "conversational tones" and noted time and again how much they respect each other. But it's hard to read the full assortment of quotes without feeling like there's some legitimate animosity there.

Honeywell, by the way, spent most of last season in Triple-A Durham, where he managed a 3.64 ERA and a 4.90 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a 22-year-old. He's not expected to break camp with the Rays, but could find himself in the majors sooner rather than later. One thing seems for certain: he won't be intimidated by anything or anyone.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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