While at Triple-A Durham, the right-hander led the International League with a 2.45 ERA.
"Like I've been saying from Day 1 of Spring Training, I knew I didn't have a chance to earn a spot in the rotation here with the guys they had," Hellickson said. "All I could do was go down there and stay consistent and develop further down there, and I think I did a good job of that."
Hellickson, the Rays' fourth-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, completed his steady climb through the Minor Leagues this season. After making nine starts in Durham in 2009 and winning the MVP Award in the Triple-A National Championship, he returned there this season and went 12-3 in 21 starts, with 123 strikeouts against 35 walks in 118 innings.
"I had the mindset at the end of last year that I'd be back down [at Durham in 2010]," Hellickson said. "I knew I had a lot to work on, and it was nice to work on it down there."
Hellickson made his Major League debut in August and is 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his first 28 Major League innings. Because of the Rays' pitching staff depth, Hellickson returned to the Minor Leagues with Class A Charlotte when Jeff Niemann came off the disabled list. Hellickson was called up again when rosters expanded in September.
"I just went down there and I think I just tried to stay consistent, that was the main thing," Hellickson said.
With Hellickson's award, the Rays become the first organization to have three different players -- Delmon Young and Rocco Baldelli were the other two -- honored as Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year. The most prestigious award of its kind, it has been handed out since 1981 and features a distinguished list of former winners, including Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer and Jason Heyward.
Getting the award "means a lot," Hellickson said. "I played against a lot of really, really good players down there, and to win it means a lot."