It took Jeremy Hellickson six years and six minor league stops to make it to the big leagues. Here’s a snapshot of his path to the big leagues and what he’s learned along the way.
Stats: 0-0, 6.00, 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO.
Accolades: No. 18 prospect in Rays system.
What He Remembers: “I just went out there as a reliever. I was right out of high school. All I was throwing was fastballs, I think,” Hellickson said.
Short-Season Hudson Valley
Stats: 4-3, 2.43, 77 IP, 55 H, 24 R, 21 ER, 16 BB, 96 SO.
Accolades: No. 1 prospect in New York-Penn League and No. 10 in Rays system.
What He Learned: “Hudson Valley is where I started to know that I couldn’t just throw fastballs by guys,” Hellickson said.
Low Class-A Columbus
Stats: 13-3, 2.67, 111 IP, 87 H, 36 R, 33 ER, 34 BB, 106 SO.
Accolades: No. 8 prospect in South Atlantic League and No. 8 in Rays system.
What Baseball America Said: “He got on a roll in the second half of the season, allowing just 20 runs over his last 14 starts. Hellickson tries to emulate Greg Maddux, albeit with more electric stuff, and has a great feel for pitching.” (2008 Prospect Handbook)
High Class A Vero Beach
Stats: 7-1, 2.00, 77 IP, 64 H, 19 R, 17 ER, 5 BB, 83 SO.
Accolades: No. 6 prospect in Florida State League and No. 8 in Rays system.
What His Coach Remembers: “He knew as well as any young pitcher that his fastball was his main weapon. He threw slow in fastball counts and hard in breaking ball counts,” then Vero Beach pitching coach R.C. Lichtenstein said.
Stats: 4-4, 3.94, 75 IP, 84 H, 36 ER, 33 R, 15 BB, 79 SO.
Accolades: No. 12 prospect in Southern League.
What His Coach Remembers: “When I saw him come to Double-A, in Mobile he gave up five home runs in his first start. The thing is I watched him. You wouldn’t know if he had watched our team hit five home runs or he gave up home runs. He went right back out and did a helluva job the next start,” Montgomery pitching coach Neil Allen said.
Stats: 3-1, 2.38, 57 IP, 41 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 14 BB, 62 SO.
Accolades: No. 9 prospect in Southern League and No. 2 in Rays system.
What His Coach Remembers: “As a pitching coach, you can walk out to him and say, ‘What do you have for me?’ And usually what you are going to talk to him about, he’ll tell you what you were going to talk about. ‘My arms dragging’ or whatever it is. And you tell him ‘Yep.’ Then you ask, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ And he tells you. So then I walk away and sit down,” Allen said.
Stats: 2-2, 3.72, 36 IP, 33 H, 19 R, 15 ER, 13 BB, 36 SO.
Accolades: No. 6 prospect in International League.
What His Coach Remembers: “He knows what his strengths are, what his weaknesses are. He knows what is his go-to pitch. He knows what his default pitch is. He knows what he is as a pitcher. Then he’ll blend in what he knows about the hitter,” Durham pitching coach Xavier Hernandez said.
Stats: 12-3, 2.45, 118 IP, 103 H, 35 R, 32 ER, 35 BB, 123 SO.
What His Coach Remembers: “Maybe a 92 mph straight fastball well located may be good enough in the big leagues, but the two-seamer became a project. Can he throw a cut fastball to go along with a curveball? With those two new pitches, now he’s got more ammo,” Rays pitching coordinator Dick Bosman.