Rays send Jeremy Hellickson back to minors after impressive debut victory

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Stud prospect Jeremy Hellickson was called up from the minors to make his big-league debut last night, pitched the Rays into a first-place tie by beating the Twins with seven strong innings, and was optioned right back to Triple-A minutes after the win.
He’ll be back, of course, but it underscores just how much young talent the Rays have that they could take a one-night look at Hellickson and then let him return to Durham after an extremely strong performance against another contending team.
Now, in fairness Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Orlando Hudson were all absent from Minnesota’s lineup because of injuries, but Hellickson’s seven innings of two-run ball were still plenty impressive. He allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six, flashing a potentially dominant changeup in addition to a low-90s fastball and good curveball.
Hellickson ranked 18th on Baseball America‘s list of the game’s top prospects coming into the season and upped his stock even further by going 12-3 with a 2.45 ERA and 123/35 K/BB ratio in 117.2 innings at Triple-A. He’s the real deal and many teams would have had him in the rotation months ago, but the Rays lead the league in ERA and have a rotation full of 28-and-under starters, so for now the 23-year-old Hellickson will have to wait his turn back at Durham.

Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.