Wild Speculation on Potential Hellickson Trade Targets

I usually dislike doing trade speculation, and this is not really about making up trades. Instead what I wanted to do was explore the archetype of the player the Phillies are looking for in trade. What has been reported by a few sources now is that the Phillies are reportedly looking for a package similar to the deal for Jonathan Papelbon where they got back a big arm that wasn’t a top prospect. They got that in Nick Pivetta, and you can argue that is what they also went out and got in the Ben Revere trade that netted them Alberto Tirado and Jimmy Cordero. They are flawed arms, but the Phillies are also selling Jeremy Hellickson so expecting the moon just isn’t a good strategy. But why an arm instead of a bat, in my opinion you just aren’t going to get a bat with near the upside of the arm you might get. Teams hold on to their hitters because hitters are rare and even with home runs up, offense is still relatively down compared to the current crop of top end starters. Also raw arms who flash good stuff are a commodity that all teams have.

My goal is to run through the names of some arms that seem to qualify for what the Phillies are looking for. Now I don’t know how either team values these players so I am not going to say if they are good or bad returns, I just want to look at what is out there.

The 2015 Control:

Nick Pivetta – At the time Pivetta was 3 starts into a disastrous first attempt at AA after acing hi-A in the Nationals system. Pivetta was a big bodied righty sitting 91-96 with some movement on the lower end of the zone. He threw a curveball, slider, and changeup with some debate on which breaking ball was better and consensus that the changeup was power. Pivetta flashed control, but lacked fastball command. The general thought was that he was destined for the bullpen. A year later, Pivetta is sitting more towards the top end of his velocity range, and has mostly scrapped the slider for the curveball. The changeup is still poor, but the fastball command is much improved. here is more thought he might be able to stick in a rotation, but he might just be a dominant reliever.

The 2016 Phillie:

Ricardo Pinto – It would be easy to say that it is Pivetta again, but he might actually be raising his stock too high. Pinto’s stock has slipped a bit, but he is a solid arm who will run it up to 95-96, sitting a bit lower. His changeup is good, but his breaking ball needs a lot of work. If it all works together he could be a good starting pitcher, but there is also a good chance he ends up in a bullpen role.


Tanner Scott: Lefty reliever who will touch triple digits and shows a good slider. Potential impact reliever if he got his walks per 9 under the 7+ they are now. He is younger than Jimmy Cordero was at this time last year and he is left handed.

Ofelky Peralta: If you are going for the rawer side of talent there is Peralta who is 19 with good size (6’5″) and can run his fastball up into the mid to high 90s. He shows signs of curveball and changeup development, but both need a lot of work. He is young for low-A, but he is walking over 5 per 9, which is actually a large improvement. He is a project and the Orioles might value him higher than other teams.

Branden Kline: Kline is a bit of a wild card that likely wouldn’t headline a trade on his own, because he is out of the year after Tommy John surgery in 2015. Before getting hurt he saw a big velocity jump to touching 97 with solid secondaries and feel for throwing strikes. The injury concerns and concerns over what kind of stuff he will have when he returns would be huge questions.


Luis Castillo: Right handed starter who can hit triple digits and will sit in the mid to high 90s. He shows a good slider and feel for a changeup, he is also only walking 1.34 per 9 this season. The only problem is that Castillo is 23 and in hi-A. He also only has right about year of time working as a starter so there are concerns about his durability long term. As you could guess he might be a pretty good reliever if it doesn’t work in a rotation.

Blue Jays:

Angel Perdomo: Perdomo is a big lefty with plus future velocity and a chance at two average secondary pitches. He is still a bit raw so his age (22) at his level (low-A) is not incredibly concerning. He is absolutely dominating the level and has good upside as he continues to fill out.

Ryan Borucki: Borucki is a big lefty with a fastball in the low 90s and a devestating changeup. He dominated the midwest league and has struggled in his first 6 starts in the FSL. He also has a history of Tommy Josh surgery and other arm injuries.


Joan Gregorio: Gregorio is a big, skinny righty who moved to the bullpen last year after stalling out in hi-A. He moved back to the rotation this year and dominated the Eastern League before struggling a bit in the PCL. He has a fastball that sits mid 90s and mixes that with a plus slider. His changeup is a step behind, and that coupled with command issues might force him to the bullpen.

Kyle Crick: Crick is a former top prospect who can’t throw strikes. There is still some solid underlying stuff if the Phillies think they can fix him, but he is becoming a lifetime member of the Eastern League right now.

There are a ton more guys out there and you can find them in each system, these are just some that caught my eye initially based on publically available information. Last year the Reds traded Mike Leake to the Giants for Keury Mella and Adam Duvall. Mella is the best version of the pitcher the Phillies are looking for and Duvall is having a breakout where all he does is hit home runs and nothing else. Leake was a bit better than Hellickson and had a bit more track record before the trade so I would expect a bit less in return, which is about what the Phillies seem to be looking for. It doesn’t feel like the Phillies are aiming low, more like they are aiming reasonable.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.


  1. Travis C

    As long as the Phillies get a prospect better than McWillaims, I’m not going to worry too much about the actual return.

  2. Mpls Phils Fan

    I think the Orioles match up better than almost any other team from a need and prospect perspective but I wonder, if the Phillies were to take on another bad contract from a team, could they increase the quality of the prospect they would receive for Hellickson. If so, would that change the teams that might be interested?

    • Kurdt Kobeyn

      for teams with deeper farm, Hellickson is probably their fallback option — so the Phils will most likely deal with MIA and BAL — teams with shallow farm system so even if $$ is being tossed around, there’s no significant improvement in the quality of prospects that MIA and BAL can offer. The Phils farms across levels are deep, getting quantity over quality from MIA and BAL is useless.