Results tagged ‘ Johnny Hellweg ’
Opening Day is here for the minor leagues!
What follows are the announced rosters for each of the full-season minor-league affiliates for the Milwaukee Brewers, broken down by position group.
Class-AAA Affiliate (Twitter: @nashvillesounds)
Manager: Rick Sweet
28 Total Players
- Michael Blazek (Twitter: @MichaelBlazek34)
- Hiram Burgos (Twitter: @Burgos196)
- Jose De La Torre
- Mike Fiers (Twitter: @Fiers64)
- Alfredo Figaro
- Donovan Hand (@DonovanHand)
- Kyle Heckathorn (@KyleHeckathorn)
- Johnny Hellweg
- Brad Mills
- Dustin Molleken
- Jimmy Nelson (@Jimmy_J_Nelson)
- Ariel Peña
- Rob Wooten (@RobWooten35)
- Irving Falu (@irvingfalu)
- Hector Gomez
- Taylor Green
- Sean Halton (@SeanHalton11)
- Elian Herrera
- Hunter Morris (@HunterMorris15)
- Pete Orr
- Stephen Parker
- Eugenio Velez
- Caleb Gindl
- Jeremy Hermida
- Kevin Mattison (@stachemaster4)
Class-AA Affiliate (Twitter: @HuntsvilleStars)
Manager: Carlos Subero
28 Total Players
- Tyler Cravy (@TylerJayCravy)
- Drew Gagnon (@Dgags24)
- David Goforth (@DavidGoforth7)
- Brooks Hall
- Greg Holle (@GHolle44)
- Taylor Jungmann
- Brent Leach (@brentle24)
- Arcenio Leon
- Johnnie Lowe (@jlowe390)
- Eric Marzec (@MarzMLB)
- Casey Medlen (@cmeds13)
- Andy Moye (@AMoye22)
- Kevin Shackelford (@Shackeldaddy)
- Brent Suter (@bruter24)
- Joey Paciorek
- Adam Weisenburger (@aweisenburger)
- Shawn Zarraga
- Greg Hopkins (@StJonnyHopkins)
- Josh Prince (@JoshPrince17)
- Nick Ramirez (@N_Ramirez33)
- Jason Rogers (@jasonrogers2003)
- Nick Shaw (@NShaw3)
- Hainley Statia (@HStatia4)
- Shea Vucinich
- Kentrail Davis
- Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny19)
- Brock Kjeldgaard
- D’Vontrey Richardson
Class-A Advanced Affiliate (Twitter: @BCManatees)
Manager: Joe Ayrault
26 Total Players
- Jacob Barnes (@j_barnes30)
- Jed Bradley (@Jed_Bradley)
- Hobbs Johnson (@hojo31)
- Jorge Lopez (@yabiee18)
- Damien Magnifico (@D_Magno32)
- Stephen Peterson (@SPetey22)
- Chad Pierce (@pierce_chad)
- Tanner Poppe (@TannerPoppe)
- Austin Ross
- Michael Strong (@Strong_Mike1188)
- Tommy Toledo (@TommyToledo13)
- Martin Viramontes (@martilious19)
- Tyler Wagner (@_TylerWagner_)
- Orlando Arcia
- Garrett Cooper (@CoopaLoop1)
- Michael Garza (@Miguelito_G_21)
- Brandon Macias (@Cias12)
- Nathan Orf (@NateOrf4)
- Yadiel Rivera (@YADIELRIVERA13)
- Alfredo Rodriguez (@Arodss2)
- Jose Sermo (@j_weesy21)
Class-A Affiliate (Twitter: @TimberRattlers)
Manager: Matt Erickson
27 Total Players
- Tyler Alexander (@LilLefty12)
- Tristan Archer (@TRISTAN_archer)
- Barrett Astin (@BarrettAstin17)
- Victor Diaz
- Rodolfo Fernandez (@cuba900321)
- Preston Gainey (@friendpresto)
- Tyler Linehan (@tylinny39)
- Harvey Martin (@Martin_Time15)
- Zach Quintana (@Slummdog)
- Chris Razo (@RazBerry02)
- Trevor Seidenberger (@trev15berger)
- Tyler Spurlin (@TyroneG4)
- Taylor Williams (@TWilly_KSU)
- Francisco Castillo
- David Denson (@_DavidD_41)
- Steven Halcomb
- Chris McFarland (@cmcfarland116)
- Angel Ortega
- Taylor Smith-Brennan (@TaylorBrennan88)
Today is Thursday, February 20th and we’re 39 days away from Opening Day.
But wait, you say, why does this article say 40? Well, the fact is that I ran out of time to get this posted yesterday. Some things in my personal life took priority and that’s that.
I had a whole thing written up to open the column too about the synergy between having another balmy day here in the southeastern Wisconsin, again eclipsing 40 degrees farenheit and how it was convenient as we were 40 days out from Opening Day.
But even though the timing no longer words that smoothly, we’re here to think much warmer thoughts of spring training, Opening Day, summer nights at the ballpark, tailgating, and all the rest anyway.
With that as our goal, let’s take a quick look at…
John David Hellweg, all 6’9″ of him, was among the 73 players to make their Major League debut in 2013 for the Milwaukee Brewers. Okay, so it wasn’t that many, but it sure feels like it sometimes.
Anyway, for all of the successful debuts, Hellweg was unable to experience much of the same for himself. Coming off of a strong 2012 organizational debut (in Huntsville) and a start to 2013 at Class-AAA Nashville which would ultimately see him named the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Year, Hellweg posted some pretty rough numbers in the big leagues.
The problems came from his control, like I mentioned a year ago was one of his biggest hurdles to overcome. His walk rates at both levels last year were poor. And despite the changes in his approach to maximize batter contact and seek out groundballs, Hellweg was bitten by a multitude of extra baserunners (Not literally; that would have made more headlines) which were only on base through his own fault.
Still, Hellweg shows tremendous potential as a 25-year-old. He’s a lot of arms and legs and has had trouble repeating his delivery at times which certainly doesn’t help his command. He’s young enough to figure it out though and still have a very solid MLB career. To take it to the extreme, before Hellweg turned his focus to generating ground balls, he brought some serious velocity on his fastball. That, coupled with his height and frame, led to comparisons to future Hall of Fame member Randy Johnson (though Hellweg is right-handed). Johnson was a guy who didn’t debut in the big leagues until he was 25 years old and didn’t really “figure it out” until his third big league season.
I’m not saying that Hellweg will be Johnson. What I’m attempting to illustrate is that there’s enough potential there that if he is able to figure himself out, he’ll be a quality Major Leaguer.
2014 will see Hellweg begin back in Nashville as he works to rein in his inconsistencies. I would expect him to pitch second in Nashville’s rotation behind Tyler Thornburg, if I had to make a prediction.
The sky could be the limit for Hellweg and, though I’m sure he’s heard most every height-based analogy known to baseball, at least he’s already got a taste of that clearer atmosphere. Whether he can correct things early enough in 2014 will speak to where he finishes the year and how much success he’ll have. After all, 2013 saw him win the Brewers organizational MiLB Pitcher of the Year award as well.
He’s one to keep an eye on this spring, but once the lights turn on in April in Tennessee, the biggest season in Hellweg’s career will begin.
Miss anyone along the way? Catch up on the Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers profiles to this point:
- #41 Marco Estrada
- #45 Alfredo Figaro
- #46 Hiram Burgos
- #47 Rob Wooten
- #49 Yovani Gallardo
- #50 José De La Torre
- #51 Wei-Chung Wang
- #52 Jimmy Nelson
- #53 Brandon Kintzler
- #54 Michael Blazek
- #58 Ariel Peña
- #59 Zach Duke
- #60 Kevin Shackelford
- #61 Jason Rogers
- #63 Brooks Hall
- #64 Mike Fiers
- #65 Irving Falu
- #66 Robinzon Diaz
- BONUS COLUMN: #77 David Goforth, #76 Kevin Mattison, #75 Mitch Haniger, #74 Michael Olmstead, #73 Kentrail Davis, #72 Cameron Garfield, #71 Adam Weisenburger, #70 Dustin Molleken, #67 Eugenio Velez
BREWERS ON DECK, PRESENTED BY TIME WARNER CABLE, TO INCLUDE OVER 50 PLAYERS, COACHES, BROADCASTERS & ALUMNI
Free Admission to All Fans in 2014; Food Donations Accepted through Hunger Task Force
Nearly thirty Milwaukee Brewers players plus a host of alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, presented by Time Warner Cable, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 26 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.
Admission to this year’s Brewers On Deck is free of charge. Tickets are not required for the event. Food donations will be accepted through the Hunger Task Force (peanut butter is requested by the Hunger Task Force, in particular). Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street. Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):
- Jeff Bianchi
- Michael Blazek
- Ryan Braun
- Hiram Burgos
- Khris Davis
- Marco Estrada
- Mike Fiers
- Yovani Gallardo
- Scooter Gennett
- Caleb Gindl
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Brooks Hall
- Sean Halton
- Donovan Hand
- Johnny Hellweg
- Jim Henderson
- Elian Herrera
- Brandon Kintzler
- Kyle Lohse
- Jonathan Lucroy
- Hunter Morris
- Jimmy Nelson
- Mark Reynolds
- Jason Rogers
- Logan Schafer
- Jean Segura
- Kevin Shackelford
- Will Smith
- Tyler Thornburg
- Rob Wooten
- Craig Counsell
- Rollie Fingers
- Jim Gantner
- Larry Hisle
- Geoff Jenkins
- Gorman Thomas
- Robin Yount
- Ron Roenicke
- Joe Crawford
- Mike Guerrero
- Marcus Hanel
- Garth Iorg
- Rick Kranitz
- Johnny Narron
- Ed Sedar
- John Shelby
- Lee Tunnell
- Jerry Augustine
- Dave Nelson
- Bob Uecker
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center District. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $10 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted next week. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
Fans also have the opportunity to enter to win autographs from their favorite players via a #BrewersOnDeck Vine & Instagram contest, which runs through Monday, January 20. The details can be found here: http://brewers.mlblogs.com/2014/01/07/win-an-autograph-from-your-favorite-brewers-player-at-brewers-on-deck/
RHP Johnny Hellweg and 1B Jason Rogers Named Recipients of the Robin Yount Performance Pitcher and Player of the Year Awards, Respectively
The Milwaukee Brewers have announced the recipients of the 2013 Robin Yount Performance Awards, which recognizes the Brewers Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year. Right-handed pitcher Johnny Hellweg was named Minor League Pitcher of the Year and first baseman Jason Rogers was named Minor League Player of the Year.
“We congratulate Johnny and Jason on their great seasons and well-deserved recognition,” said Brewers President of Baseball Operations – General Manager Doug Melvin. “In his first season at the Triple-A level, Johnny showed why he was chosen as the top pitcher in the Pacific Coast League and we’re excited to see him contribute at the Major League level. Jason had a great finish to the season in the Southern League as the league’s top run producer while playing nearly every game this season. This is also a reflection of our player development and scouting staffs as they work hard to provide young players the opportunity to play in Milwaukee.”
Hellweg, 24, spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Nashville and was named the 2013 Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, going 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 starts (125.2ip, 44er). He led the PCL in winning percentage (.706) and opponent batting average (.228) and was among the leaders in ERA (2nd) and wins (T2nd, 12). The 6’9” right-hander won 11 of his last 12 decisions with Nashville, including a stretch in which he went 9-0 with a 1.16 ERA over 10 starts (62ip, 8er) from May 16 – July 30. He was also named to the 2013 All-PCL team.
Hellweg made his Major League debut with the Brewers on June 28 at Pittsburgh. He has made four appearances (three starts) with Milwaukee and is currently in his second stint with the Brewers. Additionally, he made one start at Class-A Wisconsin on July 15 and picked up the win in a 6-2 Timber Rattlers victory vs. Lake County. Hellweg was selected as the Brewers Pitcher of the Month for July (4gs, 4-0, 0.75era, 24ip, 2er). The Missouri resident is in his second season as a member of the Brewers organization after being acquired from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last July in the Zack Greinke trade.
Rogers, 25, played the entire season at Double-A Huntsville, where he batted .270 with 22 HR and 87 RBI in 133 games. He led the Southern League in RBI and ranked among the leaders in HR (T2nd), total bases (3rd, 225) and extra-base hits (T4th, 49). Rogers was selected as an All-Star for the second straight season (Midwest League All-Star in 2012).
Rogers earned Brewers Player of the Month honors in July (.338, 24-71, 7hr, 20rbi) and August (.333, 34-102, 5hr, 15rbi). He was drafted by the Brewers in the 32nd round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Columbus State University. This marks the second straight season that a Huntsville first baseman has been named Brewers Player of the Year (Hunter Morris, 2012).
Can you believe that we’re sitting here on August 1st already? The season is two-thirds gone (wait…weren’t we just entering the “second half” two weeks ago? I keed, I keed.) and despite the Brewers lack of success in posting W’s it still seems to be flying by.
About that light Wins column though, that and plenty of other things have been more than enough to make some of the staunchest Brewers supporters yearn for fake football games to get underway. (Yes, a four-game preseason is second only to the Pro Bowl in pointlessness.)
This post, however, is intended as the start of a series of items about which Brewers fans and baseball-first fans can still anticipate and appreciate.
Today we sit on August 1, exactly one month away from the first topic that brought this series into my mind: September call-ups.
A little explanation for more casual readers first. On any given day (except for scheduled doubleheaders) a team’s Major League or “active” roster can have a maximum of 25 players available on it. They can be any combination of positions or any other way you choose to categorize the members. Now normally those up-to-15 players are assigned to various minor league affiliates of a parent club to play games daily. (I’m not going to get into ways that players don’t count against the 40-man limit or option years in this space.)
However, a codicil kicks in on September 1 whereas any player on the 40-man roster can be active for a Major League game. This period of time, give or take one month calendar month, is utilized in a handful of ways. Contending teams can bring up a couple of specialists to bolster their team. Maybe a pinch-runner or an extra lefty for the bullpen as two examples.
For teams like Milwaukee this season, however, the time is often used to get some players a little exposure to big league life, games, clubhouse, travel, etc and to see how they stack up in games against MLB-quality opponents. Many a player has made his debut in “the show” during September.
So, back to this season. How does this affect the Brewers? Well, plenty of players have already made their MLB debuts for Milwaukee already this season. Any of those could come back up to finish out the season. There are a number of others who haven’t yet debuted and also a couple of players (like the recently added Rob Wooten, and non-debuted Kyle Heckathorn) who the Brewers need to decide whether to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. They could add someone to the roster for September to help them arrive at a decision.
Here are some names in groups with a little extra commentary…
Healthy players currently in the minors but who have spent time with Milwaukee this season:
Josh Prince, Sean Halton, Johnny Hellweg, Hiram Burgos, Blake Lalli
Healthy players on 40-man who haven’t yet been up this season:
Jesus Sanchez, Michael Olmsted, Ariel Peña, Santo Manzanillo
The Brewers have one spot currently open on the 40-man but could easily open another by moving Mike Fiers to the 60-day DL, for example. The Brewers may also have their hand forced on one spot should Mark Rogers return to health before season’s end.
The point being: Doug Melvin has some room to maneuver and get glimpses. That is something to look forward to. After all, given the results this season it’s all about the future at this point.
Following last night’s loss to the Cincinnati Reds, the Milwaukee Brewers optioned starting pitcher Johnny Hellweg to the Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Hellweg was optioned there instead of to either Class-AAA or Class-AA because the organization wants him to start again on regular rest during the MLB All-Star break and while Wisconsin plays a home game burn Nashville and Huntsville are off that day. Class-A Advanced Brevard County has a game that night as well but it’s a road game and the logistics of having Hellweg simply drive from Milwaukee to Appleton is just easier.
Coming up to take Hellweg’s place on the roster and joining the team in Arizona will be outfielder Caleb Gindl. The left-handed hitting Gindl had a rough go defensively in left field but it was a position unfamiliar to him both in terms of venue but also in how the ball reacts off the bat. The recall makes sense from the aspect of getting a lefty bench bat up and having a vastly superior reserve option to put in defensively over Jeff Bianchi and Yuniesky Betancourt.
Brewers Sign Laffey to Minor League Contract
Late Wednesday night, the Brewers announced that they had signed veteran southpaw Aaron Laffey to a minor league contract.
Laffey, 28, has been with three other organizations already in 2013. He signed a minor league deal with the Mets in December of last year but was designated for assignment in April. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed him but then also designated him for assignment quickly. He was able to elect free agency at that point though and did so.He signed a MiLB deal with the Dodgers that included an opt-out clause, which he exercised making him available again as a free agent.
So far this season, Laffey has posted a 7.11 ERA in five games, including three starts, for two ball clubs at the Major League level and 5.61 ERA in 61.0 IP across 12 games (11 starts) with the third org but in Triple-A. The numbers aren’t pretty but I still wanted to pass the signing news along.
Catching up on a couple of news items from yesterday in advance of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps his musical counterpart of the same name would never do it, but the Brewers Corey Hart was forced to surrender the rest of the season. While furiously rehabbing his surgically-repaired right knee, Hart’s left knee began swelling and giving him problems during and after workouts. It finally became bad enough that he sought a second opinion from renowned surgeon Dr. Neal El Attrache.
Surgery was the recommended option and Hart will undergo such soon. It’s the same surgery that he needed on his right knee so the obviously Hart has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Hopefully everything goes cleanly for him after this.
The biggest question for Hart now is where his career goes from here. While he should be healthy before spring training next year the fact is that he’s a free agent after this one. And with multiple knee surgeries (both in terms of surgeries and knees), the 31-year-old veteran faces an uncertain future at a time when he should be preparing to cash in on a free agent contract.
The Brewers could extend a qualifying offer to him in an attempt to get draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere, but the risk there is that if he accepts and the knee injuries limit his effectiveness in 2014, then they’d be paying him somewhere north of $13.5 million to sit. That’s probably not a risk that they can take unless Hart can prove himself 100% healthy before the deadline to decide this off-season.
Gindl Optioned, Thornburg Returns
This feels like deja vu all over again.
The last time the Brewers started a long stretch of consecutive games, the team dealt with a number of short starts out of its rotation members at the beginning of the run. The bullpen was worked hard and an extra arm was brought up to help alleviate some of the strain. It’s happened again and Caleb Gindl was the victim of the numbers game this time. He hit okay while he was here, tallying both his first hit and first RBI in his first turn in the Major Leagues, but his defense in an unfamiliar left field was shaky. With Carlos Gomez back after his scary wall collision just a few days ago, Logan Schafer can shift back to starting every day in left with the usual starters of Gomez and Norichika Aoki in center and right. The back up outfielder on the roster though is one who has only played it extensively this season for the first time in Sean Halton. They’d never put him in center and would prefer to keep him out of right. In fact, Ron Roenicke specifically mentioned that with how big the Pittsburgh left field is, he’d question putting Halton in there defensively at all in this series. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a spot where Roenicke’s hand is forced in any direction.
Returning as that extra bullpen arm is Tyler Thornburg who has seen time up with the parent club already this year after making his MLB debut last season. Thornburg had been struggling in the Nashville rotation but pitched very well in relief with Milwaukee during his previous stay. The Brewers will be looking for Thornburg to provide them length after both Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Badenhop went multiple innings in relief of Johnny Hellweg’s short outing in his debut on Friday night.
Following the Brewers’ 9-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday evening, the team announced the Alfredo Figaro was the latest Brewers player to succumb to injury.
Citing an oblique strain that popped up three starts ago — which would help explain the downtick in performance as well — Figaro was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday, June 24th. The big news of the move though was who was recalled to take his place both on the roster and in the starting rotation.
Top prospect, the 6’9″ fire-balling righty Johnny Hellweg was recalled from the Triple-A affiliate Nashville Sounds. He’ll join the team officially tomorrow and travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday evening in preparation for his Major League debut.
After a slow start to the season, Hellweg modified his approach on the mound with spectacular results so far. Over the last month, Hellweg has made four starts (he was held out for a stretch to conserve innings) and posted the following line:
4-0 record, 0.67 ERA, 27.0 IP, 20 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 HR, 7 BB, 12 K, 2 HBP, 1.000 WHIP
He’s been pitching a bit more to contact, worrying less about the strikeout, and letting his defense work. Ironically, he’s currently scheduled to square off against Gerritt Cole, the top pitching prospect for the Pirates who also has been conspicuously devoid of strikeouts since his MLB debut. He’s another fireballer who has let his natural movement and disdain for pitching outside the zone work to his advantage.
Hellweg was called upon because, as manager Ron Roenicke put it, they needed another starter with Figaro getting hurt. Still, there’s something telling about Hellweg coming up for an audition in advance of the trading season. Hellweg represents the spearhead of a wave of touted pitching prospects reaching the upper levels of the Brewers’ system. That he was a part of the return in the Zack-Greinke-to-Anaheim deal along with Jean Segura just makes his debut that much more exciting.
Bottom line: Set your DVRs for Friday night in Pittsburgh if you aren’t going to be home. As for me?
My wife and kids are going up north on Friday morning. I’m considering a road trip to Pittsburgh for Hellweg’s debut. Who’s coming with me?
— The Brewer Nation (@BrewerNation) June 26, 2013
With apologies to Dayton Buller who was assigned #72, we took the day off in the “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series because while Buller was at Triple-A last year, he’s really not under consideration for the big league roster and not on the 40-man roster.
That being said, we’re back today as we sit 71 days away from Opening Day. Today’s profile subject is the second of the three pieces received when Doug Melvin traded Zack Greinke away last summer. We’ve already profiled Ariel Pena, and now we take a look at…
Let’s get the first thing out of the way right away. John David Hellweg is listed at 6’9″ and 210 pounds. He’s incredibly tall and quite lanky as a result. For the sake of comparison, 2012 Brewers Kameron Loe is 6’8″ and Jose Veras is 6’6″ but they are listed at 245 and 240 pounds respectively.
The height is an asset in some ways, but can be a hindrance in replicating one’s delivery. That can lead to inconsistency in release point as a result of altered mechanics. That being said, Hellweg certainly is not lacking in the ability to replicate his velocity. It’s that big fastball that will be Hellweg’s ticket to the big leagues so long as he can control it.
The ultimate decision with Hellweg though is what role he will fill in his career. He was largely ineffective as a relief pitcher at times and much better in the rotation. This is an unusual split but not unheard of. If I had to guess, in Hellweg’s case short outings allow him to dial up the heat even farther and as he possibly overthrows his mechanics breakdown leading to wildness and resultant ineffectiveness. And when he knows he has to maintain his stamina and go longer in games, he might wind up being more disciplined. Now that’s not based on seeing Hellweg pitch in person but it’s something that has proven true before with other pitchers in the past.
What isn’t a guess is that when Hellweg moved from the bullpen to the rotation, his career took major strides forward.
In his first three seasons in the minor leagues following his selection in the 46th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, Hellweg started only three games total, all in his first season of pro ball. The results weren’t what you would have hoped for a future star. In other words, ERAs just under 4.00 are just fine when you’re starting at the big league level but when you’re relieving or closing in Rookie ball and Low A, you don’t expect much in the way of a big league career.
But a huge fastball keeps you on the stove top even if you occasionally must move to the back burner.
The native of Ann Arbor, Michigan saw his fortunes turn and his stock begin to rise however once he began to start. In 2011, Hellweg’s first 13 appearances were out of the bullpen. Only five of them were scoreless outings and in three of those he allowed no walks, which is probably more telling. He had only four appearances out of the those first 13 in which he allowed no walks. Once the decision was made to move him to the rotation, he flourished.
He made 15 starts the rest of the way in 2011, and as his stamina increased so too did his innings pitched. Only two of his first seven starts reached 5.0 IP but then six of his final eight did. Hellweg had five scoreless starts and nine more with one or two runs allowed. Oh, and Hellweg did make one more relief appearance along the way. He pitched one-third of an inning and allowed six earned runs on five hits and two walks. It was a full commitment to starting after that.
Now then, as for 2012, Hellweg was a starter for the majority of the season as he pitched for both the Arkansas Travelers (Double-A affiliate of the Angels) and the Huntsville Stars. He made 23 starts in 2012 before the Brewers shifted him to the bullpen to limit his innings somewhat. As a starter Hellweg posted a 3.33 ERA over 129.2 IP. He allowed 111 hits and 69 walks against 98 strikeouts. As a relief pitcher, for the record, Hellweg threw 10.0 regular season innings (2.70 ERA) and 13.0 in the AFL (2.77 ERA). A reminder though was that all of his relief appearances came after a full season of starting and honing his skills in that fashion. That certainly could be a factor in his much better relief numbers in 2012.
I do have to mention that I thought it curious that they then sent him to the Arizona Fall League, albeit as a relief pitcher, where he made an additional nine appearances and threw 13.0 additional innings.The talk was that while Hellweg was going to the AFL as a reliever, he was still viewed as a starting pitcher by the Brewers.
But how committed to that idea are they really? I ask because there was talk from Doug Melvin that Hellweg would be considered for a bullpen role in 2013 with the big league club should he perform well in Spring Training. That might simply be a case of dangling the carrot in front of the horse’s nose, but it seems like an odd declaration to me for a player who clearly has performed better as the first man on the bump. Certainly a situation to watch come February the 12th.