Prospect Showdown: Mike Minor vs. Jeremy Hellickson

by Chuck

Tale of the Tape:

Age: Minor, 22 (23 on December 26th), Hellickson, 23, (24 on 4/8/11).

Height/Weight: Minor, 6′3″, 200, Hellickson 6′1″, 185.

Bats/Throws: Minor, L/L, Hellickson, R/R

Resume:

Minor: Atlanta Braves first round draft choice in the 2009 Draft out of Vanderbilt University. SEC Freshman of the Year in 2007, $2.4 million bonus is Atlanta club record.

Hellickson: Tampa Bay Rays fourth round pick in 2005 out of Des Moines High School. Rays 2008 Organization Pitcher of the Year, International League Postseason MVP.

Strengths:

 Minor is a rare four-pitch pitchers, especially considering he is lefthanded. His best pitch is a plus-plus changeup he will throw at any time, in any count. His fastball isn’t overpowering, averaging right around 90, but it has alot of movement. His command and control are above average and he repeats his delivery well. At Vanderbilt his slider was an above average pitch, but his coaches wanted him to develop the curve, so much so it has passed the slider in quality.

Including 2010, Hellickson has a 45-16 career minor league record with a 2.56 ERA in 95 starts. Only once in six seasons, covering every stop in the Ray’s minor league chain did he allow more hits than innings pitched and has a career 5:1 K/BB ratio. Hellickson has three pitches, fastball, curve, change. The fastball is his best pitch right now, with the curve lagging behind the former two. Entering the 2009 season his biggest concern was lack of command but made tremendous strides as the season wore on. He’s an over the top pitcher who repeats his delivery consisently.

Weaknesses:

Minor’s been compared to Jeremy Sowers, another former Vanderbilt lefty. He’s not overpowering and will have to think himself around the strikezone in order to be successful. Initially a control pitcher, Minor’s struggled so far in 2010, walking 46 batters in 120.1 innings. The Braves would like Minor to scrap his slider but so far hasn’t shown enough day to day consistency with the curveball to make that happen.

The gap between Hellickson’s curve and change is improving but is still a concern if his fastball isn’t at its best. His arm angle sometimes drops and the result is the fastball straightens out and he becomes much more hittable.

Intangibles:

Minor has an above average pickoff move and has an above his experience level ability to add/subtract velocity from his fastball in certain situations, essentially giving him a “fifth” pitch.

As everyone knows, the Rays are loaded with quality young arms. Hellickson really has nothing to prove at the minor league level but was the odd man out in spring training as former number one pick Jeff Neimann is out of options.

Conclusion:

Both have recently made their major league debuts, with Hellickson picking up in the majors where he left off in the minors, going 3-0 to start his career.

I’ve seen Minor in person and quite honestly wasn’t all that impressed. Granted it was his first pro appearance, but I also saw Stephen Strasburg’s first pro appearance and was. Minor has a #3 ceiling as a starter, Hellickson a #2, maybe higher.

Both players have above average baseball intelligence, who learn quickly from their mistakes and who absorb from more experienced players around them. Both are fortunate to pitch for organizations with a history of slowly developing young pitchers, which causes concern now that Minor is in Atlanta just a year after being drafted. He hasn’t had the benefit of learning through the organizational chain that some of the other young Braves pitches have had. The Braves rushed Tommy Hanson, and after a lights out first few months of his career has struggled both in performance and in staying healthy.

A buddy of mine is a former Tampa beat writer and he pointed me in Hellickson’s direction a couple of years ago, so he’s been on my radar for awhile now.

Which makes choosing between the two a no-brainer.

Tags: , , ,

Recent Posts

17 Responses to “Prospect Showdown: Mike Minor vs. Jeremy Hellickson”

  1. Chuck Says:

    Rays sent Hellickson to SINGLE A after the game today.

    Not Triple A. Not Double A.

    Single A.

    Hmmmmm.

  2. Cameron Says:

    Looks like it’s because Niemann and Davis are both coming off the DL (personally, I’d send Davis down instead of Hellickson) and they’re getting Jeremy to learn to pitch out of the bullpen.

    When you have a phenom like Hellickson, why not trade one of your pitchers? Shields or Garza might be able to attract something.

  3. Chuck Says:

    “Hmmmmm.”

    The reason for that is exactly what you said, Cameron. I heard today the Rays were, in fact, going to send Davis down.

    (They can’t send out Niemann..he’s out of options.)

    I don’t know about the bullpen thing. I mean, if you can start, you can relieve. It’s infinitely harder to do the opposite, actually.

    Durham just clinched a AAA postseason appearance the other day, so they don’t really need Hellickson, although if he’s not on Tampa’s postseason roster, he SHOULD be on Durham’s.

    Hmmmmm.

  4. Bob Says:

    Chuck, nice post. I believe I read or heard somewhere the Rays could trade either Reid Brignac or Jason Bartlett this winter to compensate for possibly losing Crawford, Soriano and Carlos Pena.

  5. Shawn Says:

    Chuck, I like these comparison articles, keep em coming. I’m curious, obviously the Mets overpaid for Harvey but what are your thoughts on him?

  6. Chuck Says:

    “I believe I read or heard somewhere the Rays could trade either Reid Brignac or Jason Bartlett this winter to compensate for possibly losing Crawford, Soriano and Carlos Pena.”

    They should trade Bartlett. He sucks.

    I heard the Rays aren’t even going to offer Pena arbitration..they’re going to just let him walk and get nothing.

    I’ve said it all along, and nothing has transpired over the past few months to change my mind.

    I believe the Yankees will do whatever it takes to sign Carl Crawford, and they are far more interested in him than Cliff Lee.

    If they sign Crawford, that would make Brett Gardner expendable. If they package, say, Gardner and Joba for a second tier pitcher like Edwin Jackson or Chad Billingsley, I don’t believe the Yankees would even make a formal offer to Lee.

    They don’t need him, and certainly not at what he would be asking for. Roy Halladay at $18 million is a bargain, Cliff Lee at $18 million is robbery.

  7. Chuck Says:

    “Chuck, I like these comparison articles, keep em coming.”

    Thankyou, Shawn.

    “I’m curious, obviously the Mets overpaid for Harvey but what are your thoughts on him?”

    I love him, actually. Other than Jameson Taillon, Harvey is/was my favorite pitcher in the whole draft.

    One of my scouting “contacts” is a former teammate of Harvey’s, he didn’t have one bad thing to say about him.

    At the time of the 2007 draft, Harvey was ranked higher among high school pitchers than was Rick Porcello. Harvey decided to go to school and had an injury problem as a sophmore but was lights out this year.

    I believe the Mets will turn him into a closer, which, IMO, is the right thing to do.

    The Mets made the right choice.

  8. Chuck Says:

    Mike Minor tied the Atlanta franchise rookie record for strikeouts in a game with 12 today.

  9. Cameron Says:

    That’s one thing I think that’s weird about Minor. The reports say he’s not all that overpowering, has a makeup similar to Jeremy Sowers, and a future as a #3 starter.

    …Yet in the minors, he struck out more than 10 K/9 and threw a 12 K game this year as a 2009 draftee. Are the reports wrong, or is this just a fluke the reports didn’t catch and will level out?

  10. Joseph DelGrippo Says:

    “At the time of the 2007 draft, Harvey was ranked higher among high school pitchers than was Rick Porcello. Harvey decided to go to school and had an injury problem as a sophmore but was lights out this year.”

    I believe Porcello has a full ride offer to North Carolina also, Harvey’s school. Wow!

    If Porcello did not sign (and ther ewere issues back then with Boras as his advisor), imagine that college rotation this past season?

    I like Minor, Chuck. Very Andy Pettitte-like, especially when you throw in the good pickoff move. He has stuff and intelligence. I do not beleive Sowers was as advanced as Minor regarding pitch repertoire.

    The reason they likely promoted Minor so quickly is that he dominated every level. Same thing that Heyward did. I can see Minor working out of the Atlanta bullpen in the post season, similar to what Price did in 2008 with Tampa.

    Obviously the Braves are not enamored with LHP Micheal Dunn, who they sent back down to Triple A Gwinnett.

  11. Hossrex Says:

    Cameron: “in the minors, he struck out more than 10 K/9 and threw a 12 K game this year as a 2009 draftee. Are the reports wrong, or is this just a fluke the reports didn’t catch and will level out?”

    Cameron: “in the minors, he struck out more than 10 K/9 and threw a 12 K game this year as a 2009 draftee.”

    Cameron: “in the minors, he struck out more than 10 K/9″

    Cameron: “in the minors”

    Cameron: “minors”

    There’s a reason we never saw minor league statistic before the predominance of the internet.

  12. Mike Felber Says:

    Yes Hoss. Though there are a goodly # of times when a kid does almost or as well in the Majors as immediately preceding in the minors, stats-wise. I surmise that this is mainly because the newbie has to step up his game/adjust to produce similar #s. Whaddya thunk Chuck?

  13. Chuck Says:

    That’s part of it.

    It’s also a reflection of ML pitchers not knowing the kid and just trying to figure out what he can hit and what he can’t.

    Jason Heyward’s hitting what, now, .260?

  14. Hossrex Says:

    Mike Felber: “Though there are a goodly # of times when a kid does almost or as well in the Majors as immediately preceding in the minors, stats-wise. I surmise that this is mainly because the newbie has to step up his game/adjust to produce similar #s. Whaddya thunk Chuck?”

    What do those kids do in their SECOND season?

    A few months ago one of the monkeys on MLBtv said something that actually made sense. When you’re playing against a good team with a hot young kid, the pitchers meeting will still mostly focus on the established players… what they feast on, how to pitch them, and what strategy will be used through the line-up.

    So while they’re of course not ignorant of the kids, they’re not spending a whole lot of time worrying about them.

    The “sophomore slump” is basically when teams begin recognizing that a batter is for real, and they start actually spending time covering his strengths/weaknesses in the pitchers meeting.

    The good batters than adjust to the pitchers adjustment of them…

    The bad batters (i.e. 99% of them) don’t/can’t adjust, and either work their way out of the game, or find a “role player” niche.

  15. Mike Felber Says:

    That is a great point Hoss! It points to things that would not happen so much on a lower tier, action & reaction. It would be good to see 2nd year stats across the board & see how much that operates. The only question is how much it operates, & how much a new player is just forced to step up his game, at least a notable amount, from the get go.

  16. Cameron Says:

    Heyward also had a couple injuries and he’s only about .260 on batting average, but speed’s coming I didn’t know he had. I dunno, I still have faith in him.

    And sometimes rookie pitchers don’t even need to wait for their second season to start sucking (Wade Davis and Mike Leake.)

  17. ShaunPayne Says:

    When has Tommy Hanson been injured? And this season Hanson is striking out batters slightly more often than he did last season, he’s walking hitters at a lower rate and he’s giving up homers at a slightly lower rate. I sure hope you aren’t judging him on his win-loss record or his ERA because fundamentally he’s the same pitcher as last season. More batted balls are just finding holes this season. If you look at his career performance, batted balls have found holes at a normal rate and his career ERA is 3.24. This is closer to who he is than his 2010 ERA or his 2010 win-loss record.

Leave a Reply

Advertisement