In 2013, Johnny Hellweg was the talk of the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system. After going 13-5 with a 3.14 ERA, Hellwag was named Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year. He looked like an arm that could be a fixture in the Brewers’ rotation for years to come.
But in his eight games (seven starts) in Milwaukee that season, things did not go so well. He averaged 7.6 walks per nine innings and allowed 40 hits in just 30.2 innings of work. These disastrous numbers led to a 2.512 WHIP and a 6.75 ERA. His FIP numbers of 7.06 were even worse.
Last season things were not much better for Hellweg. He made four starts in AAA before undergoing Tommy John Surgery. While things have not gone his way since being named PLC Pitcher of the Year, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, is reporting that Hellweg is expected to be throwing in games by the end of spring. Having another option of this caliber would greatly improve the Brewers overall pitching depth.
As it stands currently, the inexperienced Taylor Jungmann, Tyler Thornburg (coming off injury and a season in the bullpen) and the re-signed Hiram Burgos are the best options to fill in for a rotation spot should an injury occur. Getting Hellweg back healthy is a must should the Brewers need starting options.
Once viewed as a top-prospect in the organization, health and wildness has caused Hellweg to slid down the ladder. A speedy and healthy recovery could quickly put the 26-year-old righty back to the top.
Throughout his time in the minor leagues, Hellweg was able to compile a strikeout rate of 8.3 batters per nine innings. While these numbers are solid, his 6.2 walks per nine were very poor. Standing at a daunting six-foot nine-inches on the mound, Hellweg will need to continue to focus on his mechanics and repeating his delivery to improve his command.
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If he is able to recover and prove healthy, there are plenty of opportunities for him on the Brewers roster now and in the future. His ability to start makes him an emergency option as a starter this year and a realistic option as a starter in the 2016 rotation. He has also seen time in the bullpen in his time in the minors. With a power fastball and hulking size he could be a very intimidating late inning arm down the road.
Once he gets back on the mound, he will look to pickup where he left off in 2013. He will certainly see time in AAA Colorado Springs at some point this season, but if he can duplicate his 2013 he could work his way to a mid-season call-up. Whatever the role may be, a healthy Hellweg will give Milwaukee another intriguing roster option for 2015 and beyond.