Interview with Johnny Hellweg | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Right-hander Johnny Hellweg received a promotion to the big leagues on late Tuesday evening. He will join the Brewers’ starting rotation and is scheduled to make his major-league debut on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I caught up with Hellweg earlier this month when he was still pitching for Triple-A Nashville.

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Hellweg talking about his approach on the mound:

“My approach is try and get early contact. I try to get ground balls, throw fastballs in the zone, and make them swing the bat. I try to build on that and get deeper into games. It’s much easier to know that you are one pitch away from getting a ground ball and getting guy out than feeling you have to strike everybody out.

“My changeup has come a long way this year. I was really feeling for both my off-speed pitches at the beginning of the year, but both are where I want them now. My curveball is right there. I feel ready to use all of them.”

Talking about the importance of different minor-league levels:

“The minor league levels are there for a reason. I didn’t really appreciate that when I was younger, but I’ve realized each level teaches you something different. A-ball is about being raw and trying to throw stuff by people. Here, guys put together really good at-bats. I don’t care if you throw 120 mph, if you throw it down the middle someone will hit it.”

Talking about emulating Justin Verlander:

“I love how Verlander gets stronger as the game goes on.  I like that approach. I like the idea of being your own closer, your own bullpen.  I like the idea of throwing harder the second or third time the guys see you.”

Talking about being 6-foot-9 and mechanics:

“It was tough growing up because I was growing rapidly throughout the minor leagues. I think I have finally stopped growing, so I’ve gotten a solid feel for my body and my mechanics have gotten better. It’s all repetition. Just going out and doing it day-in and day-out and cementing it in place.

“I’ve seen my teammate Olmsted on the mound. He’s 6-foot-7 and looks like an imposing force on the mound. I think I have a little bit of that too. Also, I get to release the ball a couple inches closer to the plate which makes it tougher on the hitter.”

Talking about being traded to Milwaukee:

“I think it was two days before the trade deadline last year. I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, playing cards. The manager handed me the phone, and Jerry Dipoto told me I had been traded for Zack Greinke to the Brewers. I was shocked. I didn’t really know what to think right away. At the time, I thought maybe the Angels didn’t like me, but then again, a different team did. Now, I know it was a good thing and it has been helpful to my career.

“It was a different experience. I had only known the Angels system, so anything besides that would have been different for me. The Angels organization was great, and the Brewers front office has been great so far. I can definitely appreciate how the Brewers do things.”

Talking about people who think he can’t stick as a starter:

“Watch me go out there and do it.”

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