Hellweg has torn elbow ligament

Right-hander Johnny Hellweg, the Brewers’ No. 7 prospect according to MLB.com, was diagnosed today with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, an injury that often requires so-called Tommy John surgery and a 12-18 month rehabilitation.

The diagnosis followed an examination in Milwaukee with the Brewers’ head physician, Dr. William Raasch. Assistant general manager Gord Ash declined to say whether the ligament was fully torn or partially torn, pending Hellweg’s appointment next week with Dr. James Andrews. The club would know more then about a prognosis, Ash said.

Hellweg last pitched Sunday in Omaha, allowing two earned runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings, with one strikeout and five walks. He felt a pop in his elbow and threw nine more pitches before leaving the game.

“There were no warning signs of any kind,” Ash said.

Hellweg joins a growing list of professional pitchers dealing with a potentially serious elbow injury this season, including the Rays’ Matt Moore and the Yankees’ Ivan Nova most recently. Brandon Beachy, Patrick Corbin, Kris Medlen and Jarrod Parker have undergone Tommy John surgery in recent weeks. 

“I don’t know if I’d call it an epidemic, but it’s certainly been an injury of note this season,” Ash said. “We had two [Tommy John surgeries in the Minor League system] last year. We’re probably on the lower number of clubs in this over the last four or five years.”

The 25-year-old Hellweg came to the Brewers from the Angels along with shortstop Jean Segura and right-hander Ariel Pena in a July 2012 trade for Zack Greinke. He was the Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year in 2013, going 12-5 with a 3.15 ERA, but struggled in a Major League call-up. He began 2014 back at Triple-A Nashville and was 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts.

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