Jeremy Hellickson – RHP – Tampa Bay Rays. 6’1″ 185. R-R. DOB: 4.8.87
Scouted: Durham Bulls @ Columbus Clippers 5.14.10 (In Person).
Selected in the 4th round of the 2005 draft out of Hoover High School in Des Moines Iowa, Hellickson is an undersized right handed pitcher who has developed a reputation early in his professional career as a guy who’s statistical success exceeded his perceived talent. In 6 minor league seasons, he’s amassed an impressive 43-15 record, with 562 strikeouts in 511 innings while yielding just 420 hits. Ranked as my #23rd best prospect in baseball entering the 2010 season, opponents have still not figured him out and prospectors like me are now believers. Thus far in 2010, “Hellboy” is 6-2 with 3.24 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 55K’s in 50IP and he’s holding opponents to just 2BB/9IP.
It goes without saying that watching a pitcher throw one game doesn’t provide enough information for a complete scouting report, but that’s not going to stop me from reporting the relevant observations from the game. On the evening Hellickson produced a line of: 6IP 6H 0ER 0BB 11K.
Fastball: Hellickson was effective with his fastball all night long as he used the pitch to get ahead in the count to set up his curveball. It sat anywhere from 89-93 on the stadium gun and he moved it to both sides of the plate. Despite surrenduring a double to Indians uber-prospect Carlos Santana on an inside fastball, he wasn’t afraid to challenge him inside in the next at bat to set up a strikeout on a curveball away.
Curveball: If Hellickson owns a plus curveball, I didn’t see it but he did generate a high percentage of swings and misses on this pitch. The curveball is adequate and it’s augmented by his superior command and by using the same arm action with each different offering.
Changeup: Hellickson possesses a plus changeup with late fade that he commands to both sides of the plate. He used the pitch to start several left handed hitters and didn’t surrender a hit on the pitch.
In the video above, the lack of effort needed by Hellickson to be effective stands out. Compare his delivery with 2010 MLB Draft Prospect Alex Wimmers. They’re similar in stature and in velocity, yet Wimmers puts almost everything he has into each pitch whereas Hellickson looks like he’s throwing batting practice. Hellickson repeats his delivery very well and that’s a major contributing factor to his success.
Hellickson has enough polish and talent to help the Rays now. The only problem is that there’s simply no room for him at the major league level. The Rays own the best record in baseball and their pitching staff owns an MLB best 2.80 ERA. While I don’t think Hellickson will ever be a star, he’s shown enough at the minor league level to indicate he can be a successful major league starter. He should be able to contribute as a #3 pitcher on a contending team. It’s unlikely he’ll generate the same strikeout numbers that he has in the minor leagues but his command is advanced enough to generate ground balls and be effective.