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Baseball’s version of the triple-double

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Rays (Triple-A Durham)
Sunday’s stats: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K
Strict pitch counts make double-digit strikeout games a rarity in the minors, but Hellickson has reeled off three straight, with his best outing of the year on Sunday. He’s struck out 61 in 50 1/3 innings, limiting the International League to a .162 batting average. The scouting reports match the stuff, and Hellickson might be a surprise contributor come September.

This isn’t going well

Dontrelle Willis, LHP, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo)
Sunday’s stats: 4 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 8 BB, 0 K

In case you are wondering, Willis will be paid a total of $10 million this year, and 12 big ones in 2010. This coming offseason is going to be huge for him. At this point, the 2009 season looks like a lost cause. Willis threw 99 pitches on Sunday, of which only 44 went for strikes. He walked four of the first five batters he faced. There’s no obvious fix here, no roadmap to a solution–just a few months of hoping that something works out.

The DeRosa trade looks a bit better now

John Gaub, LHP, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa)
Sunday’s stats: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K

Acquired from Cleveland in the off-season deal for Mark DeRosa, Gaub has gone from a sleeper to one of the most dominating relievers in the minors. After cruising through Double-A, Gaub has allowed a hit in only one of his last nine outings. His ERA for Iowa sits at 0.64 in 22 appearances, with opponents batting a paltry .109 against him. He’s not a dominating force, with a 89-92 mph fastball and a nice slider playing up due to a ton of deception, but scouts think it’s funky enough to work in the big leagues.

Growing into his new role

Arnold Leon, RHP, Athletics (Double-A Midland)
Sunday’s stats: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K
Signed out of the Mexican League, Leon is spending his first full season in the US this year, and after beginning the year in the bullpen for the RockHounds, the 20-year-old (he turns 21 next week) has moved to the rotation, where he’s really shined. A control specialist with a solid/average fastball, effective curve, and developing changeup, Leon now has a 0.66 ERA in six starts, giving up just two runs over 27 1/3 innings. While he’s not that good, he’s definitely a prospect.

Stepping out of the shadows

Austin Romine C, Yankees (High-A Tampa)
Sunday’s stats: 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, K
With Jesus Montero out with a broken finger, Romine is finally getting some attention as another fine catching prospect in the Yankees’ system. A far better defender than Montero, Romine has a quick bat, a decent amount of power, good athleticism for the position, but an unrefined approach. After seemingly running out of gas late in the season, he’s now reached base in 10 of 11 games and will give Trenton an impressive catching prospect for the second year in a row in 2010.

Sleeper Alert!

Chase D’Arnaud, 2B/SS (Hi-A Lynchburg)

Sunday’s stats: 2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB, SB

On Friday, we talked about Washington’s Danny Espinosa, but this is the Pirates‘ version. A fourth-round pick last year out of Pepperdine, D’Arnaud is a not quite the athlete Espinosa is, and maybe even more suited for second base down the road, but once again there’s a lot to like here on a performance level, as he’s hitting .295/.395/.458 across two levels with 30 doubles, 55 walks, and 29 stolen bases.