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 Minor League News & Autograph Blog Home

Top Prospect Alert - Kris Honel

By Schuyler Dombroske

DOB: 11/7/82, Age: 20, Height: 6’5’’, Weight: 190, Bats: R, Throws: R. Acquired: White Sox - Drafted in the first round of the 2001 Draft (Providence Catholic HS, New Lenox, IL).  2001 Stats: (Rookie - AZ White Sox) 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 10 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 8 K; (Sseason-A - Bristol) 2-3, 3.13 ERA, 46 IP, 41 H, 9 BB, 45 K. 2002 Stats: (Low-A - Kannapolis) 9-8, 2.82 ERA, 153 IP, 128 H, 12 HR, 52 BB, 152 K; (High-A - Winston-Salem) 0-0, 1.69 ERA, 5 IP, 3 H, 0 HR, 3 BB, 8 K.
   Kris Honel is a Chicago kid that has a pretty reasonable chance of living out one of every boy’s childhood dreams: starting a meaningful game for the home team. Honel was drafted from Providence Catholic HS in the latter half of the first round of the 2001 Draft, sliding down the board a bit after suffering a strained ligament in his pitching wrist during his senior year. He was solid in his first 50 pro innings in 2001, but then suffered some elbow soreness to further worry the organization. Last season, frankly, he was outstanding nearly every time out. He walked 3.0 batters a game while striking out nearly 9, limited the long ball fairly well, made the Midwest League all-star team, and finished up the year with one very good start in the Carolina League. Honel has an arsenal reminiscent of A.J. Burnett, sans one important component: velocity. The first area of concern with Kris Honel is a disturbing velocity drop over the past two years, from the 91-94 mph range his senior year of high school to the 88-91 mph zone that he threw at most of last season. Honel was still able to succeed last season for two reasons: the quality of his breaking pitch and the improvement of his offspeed offering. Honel throws a knuckle curveball, like Mike Mussina and Burnett, with a nasty 12-to-6 break. Anyone who has watched Burnett and Mussina pitch can attest to the absurdity of the break on that type of pitch, something that is clearly a bit much for most hitters in the low minors. To further augment his arsenal, Honel has put a lot of work in on his changeup, which was much improved last season. He still doesn’t have a lot of faith in the pitch, but he will certainly need it as he progresses through the organization. His control is fairly good for a young power pitcher, as illustrated by the nearly 3:1 K/BB ratio that he posted last year. I am really hung up on the velocity drop from his high school days, which when added to his last month of starts (34 IP, 33 H, 10 BB, 26 K; drop of 2.1 K/9), and the fact that he is a 20 year old righty that relies heavily on a breaking ball (innumerable negative comparisons), leads me to believe that Kris Honel has less than a 10% chance of surviving to age 25 without a major injury. It is unfortunate, especially since I really like his arsenal (I’d like it more if he could find that 3 mph again), but as they say, life is unfair. I can’t remember the last breaking ball pitcher that made a big, sustained impact before age 25, so I am decidedly pessimistic about Honel bucking that trend.
    The White Sox have a lot of young talent in their organization, owning a worthwhile player in his prime years or younger at every position but shortstop to go along with no less than eight starting pitchers of a similar ilk. They are ready to compete with the Twins now, and they are also potentially on the verge of a stretch of divisional dominance much like the Indians enjoyed last decade, if the pitching comes through (although they already have more competition from Minnesota than Chief Wahoo’s band ever did). In addition to the presence of Bartolo Colon, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland, Jon Rauch, and Danny Wright at the major league level, Honel will also have to deal with competition from Jon Adkins, Corwin Malone, and Felix Diaz. I could see him surpassing all but Colon and Buehrle in a perfect world, but as I have mentioned, the likelihood of a seamless rise through the system is minimal. Even though John Sickels loves him, I cannot stress enough that I think there is something seriously wrong with Honel physically. I fully expect Honel to miss a major portion of one of the next three seasons, but if he emerges relatively unscathed, he could be a solid #2 or #3 starter for the Sox before the age of 25. Comparable pitchers that I can come up with are Mike Mussina (better), A.J. Burnett (better), and Brandon Duckworth (older). I would expect that ultimately, Honel could be better than Duckworth, but not quite as good as the other two. My projection for the Sox rotation in 2006 is Colon, Buehrle, Rauch, Honel, and Garland or Diaz, barring further organizational developments of course.


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