Previewing Jeremy Hellickson | The Process Report

Previewing Jeremy Hellickson

By R.J. Anderson //

So much for Jeremy Hellickson debuting in September as he’ll make his debut tomorrow night against the Minnesota Twins.

Hellickson is a 23 year old righty with a listed height of 6’1”. The Rays selected him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft from a high school in Des Moines, Iowa. Like teammates Reid Brignac and James Shields, Hellickson passed on the opportunity to play baseball for Louisiana State University in order to join the Rays’ organization. This came only a year after Hellickson suffered a shoulder plate injury and the Rays have been careful with him all along; including starting the season in extended spring training a few times to limit his workloads.

If size is the biggest knock on Hellickson then fastball velocity and movement might be the quickest to show up. Hellickson’s four-seam fastball sits 90-94 (he throws a cutter that sits slightly lower too) that he commands well, but the pitch doesn’t have the best bite on it which sometimes leaves him susceptible to the long ball when he leaves the pitch over the plate. In that sense, he is similar to the aforementioned Shields. Hellickson also throws a very good changeup and high-70s curveball; both of which profile as above average pitches – although it’s important to note his changeup is closer to a 60 (on the 20-80 scale) than Shields’, which is closer to a 70.

The keys for him on any given night are always going to be the same: getting ahead and having good command of his fastball. There will be nights where he can’t locate his heater and those won’t be pleasant. They’ll come and they’ll pass. Scouts have praise Hellickson’s demeanor and mindset as being one of a potential overachiever, so there should be little residue from a poor start.

Hellickson’s draw of the Twins is going to be a legitimate test. Joe Mauer is one of the best left-handed hitters in the game, meaning Hellickson will need a good feel for his changeup. Don’t discount the Twins’ right-handed bats either, even Delmon Young, who seems to be budding into the impact bat everyone had him pegged for. This shouldn’t be looked upon as a walk in the park.

He’s got all the tools (and the performances) to back up his frontline starter projection. Monday night is just one game; plenty of pitchers have had a rough first game and went on to great careers. It’s okay to be optimistic, but it’s also okay to be realistic. One game won’t make or break his career.