Hellickson has the Right Stuff


 
Jeremy Robert Hellickson started his lone walk out of the Tampa Bay Rays dugout at 6:40 pm. Here was an emerging Rays player who on first impression, might look more like a college baseball player than a pitcher about to get his first taste of life at the Major League Level. As Hellickson approached the Tropicana Field outfield, you instantly wanted the lone figure to get larger in stature based on the folk tales and lore that had trickled down from North Carolina, about his pitching.

We all knew the pitching accolades and the praise that proceeded him to Tropicana Field. His 2009 Rays Organizational Pitcher of the Year Award. The same player who won the Bobby Mercer Award as the Most Valuable Player of the 2009 Triple-A Championship. That during the 2010 Spring Training season, Hellickson amazed and tantalized us with visions of a future young Rays pitching staff that could envision all five starters amassing at least 10 wins.

 

It was said that Hellickson’s appearance tonight would be for only one start, and be a chance to benefit the Rays usual five starters by giving them a breather during the Rays current 20 games in 21 days stretch. But in reality it was another short peek at an important piece of the Rays future pitching puzzle. As Hellickson took the Rays Bullpen mound, his first pitch to Rays Bullpen Catcher Scott Cursi did not seem to have the force or the “pop” of the usual Major Leaguer. But it was Hellickson’s show now.


Eyes around the stadium began to focus towards the Rays Bullpen. Cameras and fans began to watch Hellickson’s mechanics, his grip on the baseball and especially the increasing speed and force of his pitches as Hellickson moved closer to his first pitch of the night. As his warm-up session progressed, Hellickson’s pitches got sharper, built up speed and right before his final pitch, a small smile appeared on that mound. The last pitch popped the glove of his catcher John Jaso, and you knew Hellickson was more than ready for the job in front of him tonight.

 

In the curve of the Bullpen Café, his cousin Joey Hellickson stood watching Jeremy warm up wearing the same red Team USA jersey that Hellickson’s wore for the 2010 MLB Future’s game in Anaheim, California during the All-Star game festivities. But not only Rays fans were proud to see Hellickson take the mound tonight.

14 members of the Hellickson clan had assembled just beyond the Checker’s Bullpen Café to watch as Jeremy readied for his first night in the Rays spotlight. Winning tonight would do nothing more than show he had the right stuff to be here.

Winning tonight would not garner him another chance to stride the hill this time, but could possibly open more potential chances come September. It was Hellickson’s moment on the mound tonight to finally show and acknowledge that his size and stature were not a measure of the abilities and heart that beat within him.

Hellickson’s performance would show why so many other organizations and scouting agencies coveted his right arm.

 

He showed the brilliance of a veteran pitcher on the mound tonight in taking back with him to Durham, his first Major League win. Over his seven innings last night, Hellickson scattered three hits and two runs to show the Rays ample reason why they have turned down trade after trade for the 22-year old right-hander. . Hellickson’s debut also featured him retiring the first 10 Twins hitters, the first time in five seasons that a American League rookie pitcher had performed the feat.


Sure Hellickson might have given up a Home Run to Jason Kubel in the sixth inning, but after that blast he retired the next five Twins hitters before Rays reliever Chad Qualls came on in the eighth inning. After his customary beer shower to celebrate his victory in his Major League debut, it was learned that the New York Yankees had lost their home game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Not only could Hellickson celebrate his win, but he also gave his Rays teammates the gift of again regaining at least a tie in the American League East.
Even with his win tonight Hellickson will again pack his gear and board a plane in the morning to rejoin his Durham Bulls team on the road in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 
Steve Nesius/AP

Hellickson will not leave the Rays Clubhouse tonight as the same player. He is now has confidently made his first appearance at the Major League level and gave his future fans cause to wait in anticipation for his return.

Hellickson has shown the Rays front office and staff that he is capable and ready to take the next step and contribute with confidence the next time the Rays call for his services. Hellickson gave all of us Rays fans just enough of a tasty pitching morsel last night that we are already salivating and anticipating his return again in the Rays uniform.

14 Comments

Great outing by Hellickson and I can well understand your excitement over him. Not looking forward to facing him next time our teams meet!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
Funny you should say that. The Rays sent him back to Durham last night after the game, but he should be back in the Rays fold by the time we start those last 7 games against the Yankees.
People around the MLB are now seeing why the Rays would not let him be a piece of any trade rumor or decision. They 22-year old is too valuable as a asset for the Rays from 2011-?, so he should be a firm addition to the Rays rotation in 2011.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

I think it’s great when a player comes up and produces more than expected, it really can be the make or break of the players confidence that helps layout the oncoming career..

-peter

Phillies Outside

Thuuuugh Yankees lose indeed…again. All hail Hellickson. This is going to be a great race. Youk just got placed on the DL and the Yanks just may very well bury the Sox this weekend. Tell the Rays to eat their vitamins; – MLB approved ones preferably.
mike
http://thebrooklyntrolleyblogger.mlblogs.com/

Peter,
With all the hype that National scouting agencies and publications put on Hellickson, if he had gone down a notch last night, it was fine.
These ballplayers in the minor are at such a pressure-filled situation, it is no wonder more do not crash and burn instead of thrill the home fans.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Mike,
Considering the Rays are missing their two power hitters, and still have kept their winning streak in place shows just how confident and secure this team is about their chances come October.
No vitamins needed, just got to drink ther milk after games and be sure to say their prayers before bedtime….The Rays can go 28-28 the rest of the way and still push across 95 wins…Wow!

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Well, he sure does have everyone talking… and the fantasy baseball waiver wire pickup wave on him is a testament to that frenzy.
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

Strasburg who? Wow what a breakout performance. Cant really script a better first day
http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

OMG I love rookies. It’s nice hearing success stories about rookies getting a dominant (that’s an understatement) performance under their belts right away. I hope Hellickson does well….but not too well ;) Still pulling for my Yanks, no matter how many cute rookies your Rays send out there.
-Virginia
http://southernbelle.mlblogs.com

Virginia,
It would be no fun if teams laid down for us, so I hope the Yankees,Twins, White Sox and Red Sox keep plugging away to make it a more memorable 2010 season.
Rookies bring that air of change, of a state of fluxuation in your team, usually for the better. Hellickson gave us just a taste of what could be in 2011, and Rays fans want another hefty portion.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Matt,
Jeremy Hellickson does not have the popularity of the First Pick in the draft, but that doesn’t always register to immediate success either. Strausburg( in my opninion) is being limited a bit in his overall pitch count right now. Why would a team mis-use their future scret weapon to just paddle in the water instead of using him when they are close to the top and need an edge.
He is another one in 2011 that might get out of the gate strong and show us what it is like to really have a “coming out party” in the MLB.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Cliff,
Love the profile picture with Jane!
.
I saw you had Hellickson in your MLB FB team. Great outing by the kid!
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Jeff,
I know I added him on Saturday night to my MLBlogs.com Fantasy team to be sure to have him for the contest, but I popped him on waivers on Monday night and brought up Dan Johnson who I knew was going to be here for the
Pena injury.
Always fun to play General Manager for a bit.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Emma,
Even though you got my Man Matt Joyce, who is on fire right now, Hellboy did put up some impressive numbers. He willbe back, problem is the rest of the MLBlogs League has to guess when…..
Always great to see the young guys come up and kick some booty. Less than 2 months left, and the pressure and the excitement is growing by the minute.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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