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