John Hellweg: Top Angels Prospect #4

4 ) John Hellweg, 10/29/1988 -- rhrp/rhsp, High A

7 wins, 4 losses. 95.2 IP, 3.67 ERA, 76 hits, 121 K/63 BB. 13 runs saved, 2.9 WAR

This may have been the guy that the Rockies really wanted in the Chris Iannetta deal. At 6'9", the imposing Hellweg and his devastating high 90's fastball could have the highest ceiling of any player in the organization not named Mike Trout. If the modicum of control he gained in 2011 remains intact, he has the stuff to get big leaguers out in the near future, and could even inject some phenom magic into the Halos' pitching staff as soon as late 2012.

Of course, that is not his most likely outcome. Hellweg was a non-prospect a year ago because he walked a batter an inning, and that was at a time when Halos' fans were losing faith in Fabio Martinez-Mesa for walking a batter every other inning. I had to petition John Sickles just to keep him in the organizational top 40 for 2011. It's perfectly possible that Hellweg's second half improvements were a mirage and his control remains a complete mess. Advanced AA hitters might just keep the bat on their shoulder and watch Hellweg fail to throw enough strikes to make it work.

But here's the thing: extreme power pitchers can develop in weird ways, and Hellweg is just entering his age 23 season. When he was 23, Randy Johnson walked 128 guys in 140 innings at AA. Nolan Ryan walked 97 guys in 131+ innings at age 23, albeit in the major leagues. Criminally underrated Texas Ranger Alexi Ogando was still learning to pitch against teenagers in rookie ball (I love that guy - he and Naps are the only ones I'll root for over there).

Hellweg has developed from a teenager whose high school coach didn't let pitch for fear he'd kill someone (I read it on the internet so it must be true), to middle round flyer in the 2008 draft (thank you Eddie Bane), to High A rotation ace who routinely smothered the opposition with heavy heat. If you haven't already, you can check out out my breakdown of Hellweg's 2011 improvement here, complete with video, and see if you're convinced.

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