This year, Tyler Honahan is hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream of his: make it to the MLB
The senior left-handed starting pitcher is hoping to follow the paths of former Stony Brook pitchers Joe Nathan, Tom Koehler and Nick Tropeano, the three most successful former Seawolves in the big show.
“I’ve had MLB aspirations since I was five years old,” Honahan said. “I’ve always wanted to be able to play professionally and I hope I get that shot after this year.”
Honahan chose Stony Brook despite having gone to middle school and high school in Colorado after his family moved there in 2006. He grew up in Rocky Point, New York, so he said choosing Stony Brook was a good opportunity for him to go back home.
“I went to a couple of showcases and Stony Brook was there,” Honahan said. “They ended up calling me, and I liked what I saw, the facilities and [Joe Nathan Field]. I love being back at Stony Brook. It’s a great school, great academics, great baseball.”
Honahan had a shot to realize his dream last year when he was called by the Baltimore Orioles, but opted to finish his degree.
“If I have a strong rest of the season, I think I have a shot to get picked,” he said. “I wouldn’t really care what team, any team that’s going to give me a shot to play baseball.”
Honahan started pitching around the age of 10 after playing at first base and in the outfield. He stopped playing those positions after high school in order to focus on his pitching at Stony Brook.
He’s used his college years to develop his changeup and curveball, which complement his low-90s fastball.
“Hopefully, I can use those three pitches as a professional,” Honahan said. “I just try to hit corners and command the zone with my fastball.”
His best season came during his sophomore year in 2014, when he went 7-2 with a 2.89 earned run average and 55 strikeouts.
Honahan has struggled during his senior year thus far, with an ERA over six. He’s not worried, as he said that the team has some conference games left for him to improve his statistics and reach seven wins for his third straight season.
The right-handed Koehler went 17-19 with a 4.87 ERA during his career with Stony Brook, and is in his fifth year with the Miami Marlins. Honahan has already surpassed Koehler’s win total with Stony Brook, and lefties are a more valuable commodity at the major league level.
“[Koehler’s] a great guy, I would love to be in the situation he’s in now,” Honahan said. “He talked to the team before this season and I really took a lot from him. He gave me one quote, ‘If you feel 70-percent, give 100-percent of that 70-percent’ and that’s stuck with me this year.”
Stony Brook Head Coach Matt Senk has been crucial to Honahan’s development over the past four years, both personality and skill-wise.
“Tyler’s a very hard worker,” Senk said. “He has a desire to win. Sometimes, when things don’t go well, he’s a little tough on himself. Overall, Tyler’s been very enjoyable to coach.”
Honahan has credited Senk for helping him mature as a person throughout his time in the baseball program. “I was a quiet, to-myself little kid coming in here at 18-years-old, and now being 22, he’s helped me out a lot,” he said. “I’m thankful for him taking me under his wing these past four years.”
Honahan’s experience at the college level has primed him to help aid in the development of younger pitchers in the program, such as freshman right-handed starter Bret Clarke.
“We always emphasize to our young pitchers to keep an eye on what the guys that have been here for a few years are doing,” Senk said. “Whether it’s directly by Tyler talking to Bret or indirectly, [Clarke] watching [Honahan] go about his business, Tyler’s been an influence on a lot of our young pitchers.”
Throughout the four years Honahan and fellow senior pitcher Tim Knesnik have spent on the team together, they have formed a brotherly bond.
“It has been fun sharing these last four years together,” Knesnik said. “The biggest things we have learned and taught each other is the ability to just have fun outside of baseball. When we are on the field, we will compete harder than anyone, but when we get back to the hotel, we are always having fun and messing around with our third roommate, Tim Kranz.”
One of Honahan’s fondest memories dates back to last season, when Stony Brook won the America East Championship after falling just short the previous two years.
“We had a great season, a great bunch of guys,” Honahan said. “It was probably one of the more memorable Stony Brook experiences that I’ve had, and I’m hoping to get another ring this year.”