Rays Hidden Gem

June 26, 2008 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment


We all know the Rays have the best young pitching in the world. Starting in the majors, they have Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, and Andy Sonnanstine. They have three of the top 25 prospects in all of baseball in David Price, Wade Davis, and Jake McGee. They also have guys that you may have heard of like Jeff Niemann, Chris Mason, Mitch Talbot, and Heath Rollins but the hidden gem is found in 21 year old right hander Jeremy Hellickson.

Hellickson was drafted in the 4th round out of high school in the 2005 draft and was signed for over-slot value. The extra few bucks were well spent. All he’s done, now in his 3rd full season, is lead his respected leagues in various categories. He was just promoted from the Florida State League where he was leading the league in Wins, ERA, and Strikeouts.

Hellickson throws three pitches that all grade above average but non as high as 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His command, in my opinion, grades at least a 60 but some scouts have it in the 50-55 range. His control is probably a 70.

His fastball sits in the 90-92 range but can go as low as 88 and as high as 93. His velocity doesn’t fade late in games. His fastball has some decent movement down and in to right handers and he works off it like a professional.

His curveball is his “out pitch”. According to saberscouting.com he throws a “73-75 mph loopier early-count curve with 10-to-4 slider action and a hard 77-79 mph curve that had sharper downward bite and was more of an 11-to-5 break. I’m not sure if they were two different grips/pitches or just a softer get-me-over, early-count show pitch and a harder swing-and-miss one that are the same pitch thrown two different ways for different situations.” The pitch has some room to get even better and could be a 60 by the time he reaches the majors.

His changeup is very good. It probably grades as his lowest pitch, probably a 50 now with the upside of a 55. He can use it in any count and it truly keeps hitters honest.

Hellickson doesn’t just have the stuff and command to be a top prospect but his stats prove he knows how to pitch.

In High-A this season he was 7-1 with 2.00 ERA with a ridiculous K/BB rate of 83/5 in 76.2 innings. Only 5 walks allowed while striking out over a batter an inning! He has only given up 64 hits in those 76.2 innings for a .224 BAA.

In his two previous seasons he has posted ERAs 2.42 and 2.67 and K/BB rates of 96/16 (78 innings) and 106/34 (111.1 innings). He has a career ERA of 2.48 and a K/BB rate of 296/56 in 272 innings pitched. Ridiculous numbers!

A lot of scouts will call him a #3 starter but I think he has #2 starter upside and I believe he can reach that potential. He has a great feel for pitching that makes some veterans jealous and he has a humble confidence and good composure on the mound.

With all the hype the top Rays pitching prospects get this kid is a buried gem. Can you imagine this kid with the Rays in 2-3 years? He could be their #5 starter! The future is bright for this kid and the filthy prospect-rich Rays.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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