We’ve seen some excellent performances from the likes of Michael Pineda and Zach Britton so far this season, so Jeremy Hellickson has somewhat flown under the radar among rookie starting pitchers in the American League. Not anymore.
Hellickson tossed his first career complete game shutout in a 4-0 win over the Orioles last night. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up just four hits — three of them singles — while fanning three and walking just one.
The rookie hurler needed 120 pitches to finish off the Orioles, which surpassed his previous career-high of 107 pitches from an outing against the Twins on April 28. Last night was the first time that Hellickson had tossed even more than seven innings in a game.
Now that he’s gone the distance, Rays manager Joe Maddon tells Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Hellickson has merely scratched the surface on his potential.
“With a young pitcher like that, to throw a complete-game shutout can really catapult him into the next level,” Maddon said. “That’s the kind of moment right there that can really make Jeremy take off. … Because once you’ve done it, you know you can do it in the future and you know what it feels like to do it. … That’s a good way to teach yourself a lesson right there.”
Hellickson now sits at 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA and 30/18 K/BB ratio over his first seven starts this season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last 14 innings.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.