Here is the reason to watch and/or listen to today’s Orioles-Tampa game.
The contest features a matchup of the two of the best, young pitching prospects in the game. It’s Jake Arrieta for Baltimore and Jeremy Hellickson for Tampa.
Let’s start with Hellickson.
Entering this season, Baseball America ranked the 23-year-old righty as Tampa’s number 2 prospect and number 18 in all of baseball. In their recent mid-season rating of the top 25 prospects in baseball at the mid-point he was rated number four overall and as the top pitching prospect in the game.
Today, he will be making his third Major League start. He is 2-0, 1.29 in his first two. He held Minnesota to two runs on August 2nd and, this past Tuesday, pitched seven shutout innings at Detroit. His batting average against is .130.
He is the just the second Rays pitcher to ever win his first two starts. Joe Kennedy did it in 2001.
He throws a low to mid 90’s fastball with an excellent curve and change. Right-handed batters are 2 for 25 against him in those two big league outings.
In 21 starts this year at Triple-A Durham, Hellickson, a fourth-round draft pick out of a Des Moines, Iowa high school in 2005, was 12-3, 2.45.
In 2009, he was Tampa’s minor league pitcher of the year going 9-2, 2.45 between Double and Triple-A.
Arrieta is not rated quite as high as a prospect as Hellickson, but is no slouch, of course. Entering this year, he was rated by Baseball America as the O’s number 4 prospect and number 99 overall in the game.
He then went out and went 6-2, 1.85 in 12 games with Norfolk.
Recalled by the O’s on June 10, he beat the Yankees that night. He has recorded six quality starts in 12 O’s games and the team is 7-5 when he starts.
Two keys for Arrieta. Number one, cut down on the walks. In the five O’s games where he has walked two or fewer batters, his ERA is 2.70.
Also, do a better job vs. left-handed hitters. While he holds righty batters to an average of just .183, lefties are batting .326 with an OPS of .926 vs. Arrieta.
Arrieta vs. Hellickson. These two could be matching up a lot over the next few years.
Should be fun to watch today.
Also, check this out. Adam from Orioles Hangout, wrote about Jim Johnson’s outing in Frederick on Saturday night where he gave up one run in one inning.