PHOENIX -- Watching the likes of Johnny Hellweg, Jimmy Nelson, Will Smith and Kevin Shackelford throw bullpen sessions during the Brewers' first official Spring Training workout this week, general manager Doug Melvin was struck by the number of big men in Milwaukee's camp.
The team has prioritized big-framed power pitchers in recent years as it seeks to improve its pipeline of arms. In a Tuesday sit-down with Brewers beat reporters, Melvin referenced a baseball preview magazine that included a chart from FanGraphs.com, listing the number of starters on each team who were 25 or younger last year and averaged at least 93-mph fastballs.
The Brewers had three (Wily Peralta, Hellweg and Nelson), tied with the Marlins and Rays for most on the list. It's notable that Hellweg and Nelson combined for only eight starts, but the Brewers also had Tyler Thornburg just barely miss the cut at 92 mph.
What mostly struck Melvin was this: Fourteen teams had zero starters on that list.
Melvin also said he had data showing the Brewers pitchers ranked fourth in the Majors last season in fastballs above 95 mph.
"That surprised some of our coaches, because you have the perception that all these other teams have hard throwers," said Melvin.
He added: "We've got some bigger, physical guys that we maybe didn't have in the past. Some of the 'arm-strength' guys that we've had in our Minor Leagues are here and are going to get the opportunity. … But they have to learn to pitch, too, and that's part of it. We've talked about the fact that we have to be patient with guys. You have to be patient with pitchers more than anybody."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.