Hellickson, the Devil Rays fourth pick in the 2005 draft, has put up staggering statistics in low Single-A – 11-2 record, 2.86 ERA, 89 strikeouts in 94.1 innings – in his first full season of professional baseball. The 21-year-old- flamethrower – consistently clocked in the mid-90s – is a dominant force for the Catfish in an excellent starting rotation. He is among club leaders in ERA (2.86, second), strikeouts (89, third), WHIP (1.12, second), and wins (11, second) for a team with one of the top starting pitching staffs in the South Atlantic League. And if it wasn't for Heath Rollins, the team's pitching Triple Crown leader with a 13-4 record, 2.57 ERA, and 127 strikeouts, Hellickson would be leading the Catfish in nearly every statistical pitching category.
Over his last 10 starts, Hellickson is 7-1 with a 3.61 ERA and 56 strikeouts. His continued success as of late, where he has allowed only 21 earned runs and 47 hits in his last 51.2 innings, is one of the biggest reasons why Columbus – 70-47 overall, 29-18 since in the second half, ½ game back of Asheville for first place in the current Southern Division standings – looks poised to make a late push for a league title. Hellickson and Rollins, who are a combined 24-6 in 2007, make up a top-notch 1-2 punch at the front of the Catfish starting rotation, an unmatched asset among league competitors.
In the summer of 2004, Hellickson made headlines as a prep after leading the Team USA junior national team to a gold medal at the World Youth Baseball Championship in Taiwan. As the ace of Team USA's pitching staff, Hellickson dazzled scouts with his advanced pitching repertoire and finished the tournament 2-0 with 17 strikeouts.
Shortly after signing with Tampa Bay less than a year later, Hellickson's success as an amateur immediately translated over to the professional ranks. In his rookie season as a pro, he compiled a 4-3 record and a 2.43 ERA in 14 starts for short-season Hudson Valley. For his efforts, he was named to the New York Penn League All-Star team.
As he continues to make the necessary adjustments required to get to the next level, Hellickson looks poised to rise up through the Devil Rays farm system quickly. Regardless of how long it takes for him to pitch in a game at Tropicana Field, Jeremy Hellickson is a name that you don't want to forget.
You can reach Tyler Hissey by sending him an email at TylerHissey@gmail.com.