Are you ready for some bad news Red Sox fans?
Boston is already 7 ˝ games behind the Tampa Bay Rays and the best pitcher in the International League so far this year is a Tampa Bay prospect.
Allow me to introduce you to 23-year-old Jeremy Hellickson.
In his first 6 starts for the Durham Bulls, Hellickson is 5-0 with a 2.57 ERA. In 35 IP, Jeremy has 35 strikeouts and only 7 walks.
Yea I know, it’s only Triple-A. But PawSox relief pitcher Joe Nelson was Hellickson’s teammate in Durham late last year, and Joe has the following advice for Red Sox nation: Be afraid, be very afraid.
“Last year when I got sent down, I think he had been in Durham for 4 or 5 starts and he was 21 or 22 years old – he could fit in 29 teams’ starting rotation,” Nelson told me. “He’s not intimidating – he’s about 5’11” and 180 pounds soaking wet. Probably more like 165. But he throws 93-94 mph with pinpoint control and his changeup is fun to watch because he can throw it on any count. It’s not fair, because when he’s sitting 93 mph and just dotting both sides of the plate and then he throws the changeup – guys think they’re on it and miss it by two feet. He’s a guy who has no-hit stuff – he reminds me of Buchholz in terms of stuff and his makeup is off the charts. He’s an unassuming kid from Iowa who doesn’t say a whole lot and doesn’t have to. If he stays healthy he is going to be a perennial Cy Young Award candidate in the big leagues – he’s that good.”
Tampa Bay’s current rotation of Matt Garza, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, David Price, and Wade Davis has a major league-best ERA of 2.48. It has to be pretty comforting to Rays’ management to know that if one of them gets hurt, Hellickson is waiting in the wings.
Again, it’s only the minor leagues, but Hellickson’s career record is 42-13 for a winning percentage of .764. To put that in perspective, Pedro Martinez’s record in 7 years with the Red Sox was 117-37 for a winning percentage of .760.
Nelson has additional advice for the Red Sox.
“Trade for him,” Joe said with a laugh. “He’s special. He’s a competitor on the mound, but when he walks off you don’t know if he gave up 5 runs or struck out 3. His makeup is what puts him over the top for me – he’s a bulldog on the mound and he’s going to have a lot of success.”
Just what you wanted to hear, right?
* * * * *
If you listened to our broadcast on Saturday night, you heard Hoard and Hyder describe Charlotte’s pink-and-black striped jerseys which the Knights wore to raise breast cancer awareness.
A picture is worth a thousand words so here you go:
It led to an amusing discussion with relief pitcher Robert Manual about the ugliest uniforms in baseball history.
Robert chose the late 70’s “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates with the interchanging black, yellow, and pinstriped combos with the circular hats.
I selected the slow-pitch softball uniforms that the Chicago White Sox broke out on August 8, 1976 that featured shorts and big collars. The Sox wore them in the first game of a doubleheader . . . and never wore them again.
* * * * *
Nava has been leaving a ticket on the pass list for the ESPN sideline reporter for the last three years. Unfortunately for the PawSox outfielder, Erin hasn’t taken advantage of his generous offer – at least not yet.
Perhaps they will cross paths when Daniel gets to the big leagues which seems more inevitable by the day. Nava extended a hitting streak to 8 games during Saturday’s 8-4 loss at Charlotte. During the streak he’s 10-for-31 (.323) with 2 2B, 3 HR, and 8 RBI. In his last 17 games, Nava is 21-for-60 (.350) with 5 2B, 3B, 4 HR, and 17 RBI.
* * * * *
The PawSox conclude their 9-day, 8-game road trip on Sunday at 2:15 with Michael Bowden on the mound.
I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
I’d love to hear from you. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard