Jeremy Hellickson has been dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first big move of each team's respective new General Manager.
"As we thank Jeremy for his contributions to the Rays organization and wish him great success in Arizona, we are pleased to receive two talented young prospects in return," said President, Baseball Operations Matt Silverman. "They have the potential to become impact players at the major league level, and we are excited to add them to our player development pipeline."
In return, the Rays acquired minor league infielder Andrew Velazquez and minor league outfielder Justin Williams from Arizona.
The former Rookie of the Year found himself in poor standing with the club after waiting until after his arbitration was settled to report elbow discomfort in January. The result was elbow surgery to clear out bone spurs, and delay of Hellickson's return to the rotation by a few months.
The move clears approximately $4 million in salary for the stricter budget next season, and relieves a 40-man roster constraint. Luckily, neither Velazquez or Williams is Rule 5 eligible, despite prior speculation.
A full write up on both prospects was sent out via press release by the Rays this evening:
Velazquez, 20, enjoyed a breakout season in 2014 for Class-A South Bend, and was named Midwest League Prospect of the Year in addition to a midseason and postseason All-Star. The switch-hitter led the Midwest League with 50 stolen bases, 94 runs scored and 15 triples. In 134 games (129 at shortstop), he recorded a .290 (158-for-544) batting average, .367 on-base pct., .428 slugging pct., 18 doubles, nine home runs and 62 walks. His 50 steals ranked seventh among all minor league players. From April 22 to July 16 he reached base safely in 74 consecutive games.
Following the season, Velazquez was named the No. 12 prospect in the D-backs system by MLB.com and the No. 16 prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America. The Bronx, New York native was selected by Arizona in the seventh round of the 2012 June Draft out of Fordham Prep School.
Williams, 19, hit a combined .351 (102-for-291) between Short-Season A Missoula and South Bend in 2014, and won the Pioneer League batting title with a .386 (73-for-189) mark for Missoula. At the time of his August 3 promotion, he had compiled a Missoula-record 28-game hitting streak, batting .443 (51-for-115) during that time. He recorded 52 hits in the month of July, most of any professional hitter at any level. After the season, Williams was named a postseason Pioneer League All-Star, the league's No. 7 prospect by Baseball America, and the No. 14 prospect in the D-backs system by MLB.com. He finished the campaign with a combined four home runs, 46 RBI, .403 on-base pct. and .467 slugging pct.
Williams, a left-handed hitter, owns a .351 career batting average over two professional seasons. He was selected by Arizona in the second round of the 2013 June Draft out of Terrebonne High School in Houma, Louisiana.
For a write-up of the prospects the Rays received, read Scott Grauer's description here.
Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com first reported that a deal was close between the two teams.