The honor is the first ever given to a Tampa Bay Rays player, but is Hellickson's second from Baseball America, having been chosen Minor League Player of the Year in 2010. He was also named AL Rookie of the Month for May 2011 by the publication.
For the season, Hellickson started 29 games, pitching a total of 189.0 innings, while recording 117 strikeouts and 13 wins. His 2.95 earned run average was the 8th best in the American League, and he also had a total of 20 quality starts. His 6.95 hits per nine innings pitched was fourth best in the American league behind only Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, and Jered Weaver.
Hellickson who has developed a reputation as a poised and relaxed pitcher on the mound, was a key member of a Rays staff that led the American League in batting average against. He was second in wins on the Rays staff, and was the only starter to throw a shutout other than James Shields.
Among all rookie pitchers, Hellickson was third in wins, first in games started, innings pitched and complete games, and sixth in strikeouts. He also led all rookie starters in earned run average as well.
Baseball America has been handing out the award since 1989, and it has been won by many current Major League stars including Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander, Ryan Braun, and Andrew McCutchen. Last year's winner was San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.