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Prospect Hellweg sees boost in velocity

Brewers righty touches 98 mph in latest Tommy John rehab start

CHICAGO -- Brewers pitching prospect Johnny Hellweg touched 98 mph in his latest Minor League start Tuesday, marking a significant step forward in his comeback from Tommy John surgery that was not reflected in the box score.

Pitching for Class A Advanced Brevard County in Tampa, Hellweg surrendered seven runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks in four innings, boosting his ERA to 8.31 after 12 starts this season at Brevard County and Double-A Huntsville.

"I had a message last night from [Minor League pitching coordinator] Rick Tomlin, who thinks that [Hellweg] got over the hump last night," Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash said Wednesday. "Guys that come back from surgery are always a little guarded, and Rick thinks [Hellweg] got to the point last night where he finally said -- he let his guard down.

"He started cranking out a few 97s [mph] and 98s. It comes at different times for different guys coming back from that surgery. It gets to a point where you let it go, and there are better days ahead."

It's the first time the right-hander has produced those radar gun readings since undergoing elbow reconstructive surgery in April 2014.

Assuming continued progress, Hellweg is a candidate for the Arizona Fall League, a venue in which he could make up some innings lost earlier this season to rehabilitation. Assignments to the AFL could be finalized in the next week to 10 days, according to Ash.

Hellweg will turn 27 in October. The Brewers acquired him in July 2012 from the Angels as part of a prospect package for Zack Greinke, and Hellweg was the Triple-A Pacific Coast League's pitcher of the year in 2013 before a subpar showing in the Major Leagues late that year. He sustained the elbow injury four starts into the 2014 season.

Hard-throwing right-hander Taylor Williams underwent Tommy John surgery Tuesday in Milwaukee. The procedure was completed without any complications, Ash said.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.
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