6'1" 185 lbs DOB: 4/8/1987
Bats: Right | Throws: Right
2009: Montgomery Biscuits/Durham Bulls
Acquired: 2005 Draft, 4th Round, 118th Overall
Long a favorite of the statistically-minded, Jeremy Hellickson wasn't able to crack too many top prospect lists without eye-popping stuff or an ideal frame. But after dominating the two highest levels of the minors, the prospect community has taken notice, big time.
Over 114 innings between Montgomery and Durham, Hellickson posted a 2.45 ERA and a WHIP under 0.90. He struck out over 10 batters per 9 innings while walking just over 2 per 9. While he's a flyball pitcher, he was able to fix his problem with allowing the long ball. In 75 innings with Montgomery in 2008, he allowed 15 homeruns. In 2009, he allowed only 8 between the two levels. Hellickson was at his best down the stretch for Durham, in fact, his hit and strikeout numbers are better with the Bulls. Along with Desmond Jennings, he led a depleted Bulls team to the AAA championship, earning the win in the final game.
Hellickson improved virtually across the board from his already-good 2008 season. While before he was able to consistently pound the strike zone, he's now better able to command his pitches within it. His fastball isn't as electric as Wade Davis's or Alex Colome's or some others on this list, but he makes the most out of the straight, low-90s offering it effectively to get ahead in counts. Once ahead, he's able to put hitters away with a plus change-up that's nearly identical-looking to his fastball out of his hand. He's also able to get hitters to swing and miss at his solid breaking ball.
The only nit to pick about Hellickson's 2009 season was the time missed to injury. He hurt his shoulder on a pick-off play, and the Rays were extremely patient getting him back onto the field. He's yet to show he can consistently handle a starter's workload, though the injuries he's sustained have been relatively minor. His stuff was the sharpest it's ever been at the end of the season with Durham, but in the playoffs he was just getting to the 120-130 innings mark, whereas he'd have been around 170 if he hadn't gotten hurt.
Without an opening in the rotation, Hellickson will find himself back with Durham in 2010, but at the top of the list for a call-up. There's no reason to think his success won't continue, perhaps to the point he forces the Rays' hand. If his stuff is still sharp late in the season, he could be called up in a relief capacity for the playoff push. As it stands, though, there's very little left for Hellickson to prove in the minors.