After falling out of favor with the Rays’ front office, former rookie of the year winner Jeremy Hellickson has been dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Justin Williams and shortstop Andrew Velazques.
SS Andrew Velazques
After finishing 2012 with 3.10 ERA in 177 IP, Hellickson, 27, has struggled the past few seasons in Tampa. While he managed to compile a winning record in 2013, the righty posted a pedestrian 5.17 ERA and gave up 185 hits in 174 innings. Things didn’t get much better this past season either, as the former fourth round pick battled elbow injuries on the way to a career-low 13 games started with a 1-5 record and 4.52 ERA.
Considering Hellickson’s inconsistencies and injury history, the Rays actually netted a pretty nice return in Velazques and Williams, the number 12 and 14 prospects in Arizona’s system respectively.
Velazques, 20, brings impressive speed and an all-around game to the table: the young prospect slugged 9 home runs, notched 15 triples and batted .290 for High-A Visalia in 2014. And despite a smallish frame, scouts project Velazques to stick at shortstop in the big leagues.
In Williams, the Rays get the rare left-handed slugger that also plays solid defense. While MLB.com grades the 19 year-old’s power as a 60 on the 20-80 scale, Williams still needs to refine his approach at the plate in order to use that raw power in games.
Even without Andrew Friedman, the Hellickson trade shows that the Rays are still looking to move overvalued players in exchange for high-upside prospects. Nevertheless, in Hellickson, the Diamondbacks land a potential All-Star pitcher at the cost of two mid-tier prospects, a worthy gamble for a team that finished 26th in team ERA last season. We may not learn which team won this trade for a few years, but right now, it seems like a victory for both sides. The Rays add to a somewhat-depleted farm system with two solid talents and the Diamondbacks buy-low on a player who could be the next ace of their staff.