Honeywell, Kopech dominate Fall Stars Game with 4 perfect frames

Rays and Red Sox pitching prospects combine to whiff eight in West's 12-4 win

November 6th, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Brent Honeywell and Michael Kopech provided two of the more dominant pitching performances in the history of the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game, retiring the first 12 batters in order as the West routed the East, 12-4, on Saturday night.

Honeywell (Rays) set the tone in the top of the first, when he struck out Top 100 Prospects (Athletics), Eloy Jimenez (Cubs) and (Yankees) in order. He whiffed Barreto on three pitches, finishing him off with his trademark screwball, then fanned Jimenez on a 97-mph fastball and Torres on a 96-mph heater.

:: 2016 Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game ::

After getting Brian Anderson (Marlins) to fly out to lead off the second, Honeywell erased two more Top 100 Prospects via the K, both looking. Bradley Zimmer (Indians) froze on a 95-mph fastball before Anthony Alford (Blue Jays) went down on a screwball.

"It was awesome," Honeywell said. "It was the first All-Star game I ever started, the first TV game, so I was pretty excited."

After recording a 2.34 ERA in Class A Advanced and Double-A this season, Honeywell allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings during his first two AFL starts. He has since righted himself, throwing seven shutout innings in his two starts prior to the Fall Stars Game.

"I just had to make better pitches," Honeywell said. "I need better fastball location because everything plays off my fastball command. That's the key. I didn't have very much feel for my off-speed pitches either, and I just had to work hard to get it back."

Kopech followed Honeywell by cruising through two more perfect innings, hitting 100 mph five times. The consensus among scouts is that he's the best pitching prospect in the AFL, and he looked like it while retiring three of his six batters via called strikeouts, victimizing Ryan McMahon (Rockies), (Brewers) and Torres all with fastballs.

Kopech has sat in the upper 90s with his fastball in the Fall League, which he leads in strikeout rate (11.6 per nine innings).

"Pitching against the best guys in Minor League Baseball, it's fun to compete with them and see how your stuff matches up," Kopech said. "I tried to mix in some changeups, mix in some sliders, change eye levels. Most guys try to sit on my fastball, so I tried to put my other pitches in early to throw them off and keep them off my fastball."

West catcher (Cardinals) enjoyed his perspective from behind the plate while handling Honeywell and Kopech.

"It's pretty impressive anytime you get to catch guys like Honeywell and Kopech," Kelly said. "They had a plan and executed their pitches. I faced Honeywell in the Florida State League all the time, and I was talking to him about how it's a lot better to catch him than hit against him. He always throws me that screwball, and now that I've caught it, maybe next time I'll go get it."

Despite the brilliance of Honeywell and Kopech, a position player took home the Bowman MVP award. Willie Calhoun (Dodgers) did so by going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs. He slammed a two-run homer off Sam Bragg (Athletics) in the fifth.

"They were throwing into my strengths a bit tonight," Calhoun said. "Just tried to have a good plan and be able to see as many pitches as I can, and that's what I was able to do tonight. I was able to put the barrel on a few balls."

While Honeywell and Kopech were putting up zeroes, the West raced out to an 8-0 lead. After (Giants) set down the first four batters he faced, the next five reached in a four-run second inning as Michael Gettys (Padres) stroked a three-run double off a slider to break the game open.

The West piled on with four more runs in second against Evan Phillips (Braves), who retired just one of the six hitters he faced. Harrison Bader (Cardinals) collected his second hit and run of the game, Ryan O'Hearn (Royals) drew his second walk in the midst of reaching and scoring in three straight plate appearances and Kelly (Cardinals) drove in his second run.

The East finally got on the board with three runs in the fifth against (Astros), two on a homer by Ryan McMahon (Rockies). Its only other run came from a ninth-inning homer by Cristin Stewart (Tigers) off Ryan Brinley (Marlins).