As Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times first reported, the Rays have decided to promote top pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson for a one-time spot start on Monday against the Twins. Whether he sticks around to pitch out of the bullpen remains to be seen, but it would make some sense. For now he is simply going to provide the entire Rays’ starting rotation with an extra day of rest.
Hellickson, a 23-year-old right-hander, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2005 draft and has posted fantastic numbers at every stop in the minor leagues.
He had a 1.09 WHIP and a 2.67 ERA over 111 innings at Single-A Columbus in 2007. Then in 2008 he rattled off 162 strikeouts in 152 innings between Single-A and Double-A, walking just 20. In 2009 he finished with an incredible 0.89 WHIP over 114 innings including a 0.80 WHIP over his first 57.1 innings with Triple-A Durham. This year he has fanned 123 batters in 117.2 innings at Durham for a 12-3 record and a 2.45 ERA. Needless to say, the kid is ready.
The Rays have been hesitant to give Hellickson the call this year because the starting five in Tampa has looked great and has been able to avoid injury. Yes, even Wade Davis has pitched well enough to deserve his spot. Hellickson will almost certainly be a factor heading into 2011, though, and he could have a slight impact in this year’s race to the American League pennant. Onward, Rays.