Monday, September 29, 2008

Vero Beach Prospects - BA FSL Top 20

Jeremy HellicksonOnce again, just one representative for the Rays here. This time, it's Jeremy Hellickson. The RHSP's stats were outstanding with Vero Beach before a mid-season promotion to Montgomery: A 2.00 ERA to go along with an 83:5 strikeout:walk ratio in 76 innings. BA says:

He may have a plus fastball and a sometimes devastating curveball, but the first thing FSL observers mentioned about Hellickson was his savvy. He could just reach back and blow away a lot of hitters, but he was much happier to keep them off balance.

Hellickson's fastball sits between 92-94 mph and he can add a tick more velocity when he needs to. On the days when he was locating his 12-to-6 curveball, he was almost unhittable, though there are games where he'll lose the feel for it and it becomes a harder 11-to-5 breaker. He also believes in his solid low-80s changeup.

Vero Beach's pitching coach, R.C. Lichtenstein also has a quote about his advanced feel for pitching; e.g. he'll throw a changeup in a fastball count, that kind of stuff. There is certainly a lot to like about Hellickson, and about the only flaw you can find is he doesn't have a very projectable body, so he might already be at his ceiling. Even so, for me, Hellickson profiles as a number 2 or 3 starter down the line.

1 comment:

  1. From the BA FSL chat:

    Q: JAYPERS from IL asks: What's been the main reason for Ryan Royster's regression this season? It seems to be a far cry from last year, where he jacked balls out of all of the Sally league's ballparks.

    A: J.J. Cooper: Royster seems to have gotten his swing screwed up. He showed up this year in good shape, but he got way too power hungry, trying to yank everything to the point where he was bailing out of the box and helpless on anything offspeed and anything away. The tools are still there, but he has to settle down and get his swing fixed.

    Q: Mikey from Tampa asks: Wouldn't Jeremy Hellickson be a #1 starter on other teams, if here weren't a Ray? He had to be one of the more dominant pitchers in the minors this year, but being behind Price, Kazmir, Shields, Garza, and even Davis and McGee can't help him...or do you think he could bump into the top-5 in a couple years?

    A: J.J. Cooper: I didn't really find anyone who saw him as a No. 1. He did have a relatively dominating season, but there are some reasons to pull back on the hype. For one, he's pretty maxed out right now, as there's not much projection left in his small frame. And a lot of his success in the FSL came because he was pitching backwards against inexperienced hitters. His outstanding command will make him a big league starter, whether it's with the Rays or someone else, but he'll also need to learn that more experienced hitters love to see the ball left up. He gave up 22 home runs this year as he tried to learn that lesson.

    Q: Luke from Des Moines asks: How close was Heath Rollins? Where would Desmond Jennings and Travis Snider have ranked if they were eligible for the list?

    A: J.J. Cooper: Guys like Rollins, but he had to make some adjustments that he's still working on. He started relying on his curveball too much and had to learn that he has to establish his fastball first. His fastball should have enough to be effective, but he needs to learn to trust it. He's also working on developing confidence in his promising changeup. He likely won't end up in the Rays rotation with their pitching depth, but I would be surprised if Rollins doesn't make the big leagues. Jennings had a season lost to injuries which makes it hard to even project. Snider would have been a top five guy for sure if he had enough ABs.