Recently, we’ve checked on the No. 10, No. 9, and No. 8 prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers system. Now we take a look at the No. 7 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, Lucas Erceg.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ second round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft got off to a tremendous start last season, earning a promotion from Rookie-level Helena to Low-A Wisconsin. He earned a promotion to High-A Carolina in 2017, so let’s check how he’s doing.
The lefty third baseman came from Menlo College in 2016 with the hopes of being a fast-riser through the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League system. He showed potential with a .327/.376/.518 line through 272 at-bats last year.
What’s Going On This Year With Erceg?
However, 2017 has been a different story. So far this season, Erceg is hitting a pedestrian .205/.253/.350 in High-A Carolina. He has only 12 extra base hits on the year and 21 RBIs while hitting in the middle of the lineup.
His 29 strikeouts aren’t that big of a problem, but Erceg has drawn only eight walks so far. His five homers on the season are good for third-most on a Carolina Mudcats team that’s expected to be among the best in the Minor Leagues this season.
When asked about the issues with Erceg this season, Brewers Farm Director Tom Flanagan made an interesting point.
Being a left-handed hitter, the abundance of lefty pitching would provide a certain level of discomfort. However, if Erceg is going to be the Brewers long-term answer at the hot corner, he needs to be able to hit left-handers. There were similar questions about Travis Shaw‘s ability to hit lefty pitching but he’s answered those rather quickly this season. So could there be another reason for this cold streak Erceg is going through?
Regardless of whether Erceg’s struggles can be attributed to facing a slew of lefties or wearing down physically, Erceg still has the highest potential of any of the Milwaukee Brewers third base prospects.
What Does The Future Hold For Erceg?
Erceg has plenty of raw power and a solid approach at the plate makes him an impact middle-of-the-order bat in the Majors. He has ideal arm strength for third base, but he may also be a quality shortstop as well. His overall versatility and athleticism certainly make him an intriguing prospect with a high ceiling. It’s no secret that Brewers management loves versatile players and Erceg certainly fits the mold that GM David Stearns wants on his roster.
The Brewers haven’t had a quality homegrown third baseman since Bill Hall and Erceg has the potential to change that. Some estimates have Erceg arriving in Milwaukee some time next season but if his slow start continues, that could be delayed to 2019.
With the emergence of Travis Shaw, the Milwaukee Brewers don’t necessarily need Erceg to reach the majors as quickly as previously thought. Erceg’s high offensive ceiling matched with his defensive versatility should allow him to remain a Brewer long-term.
Milwaukee Brewers fans shouldn’t worry too much about Erceg. He will most likely be able to turn things around this year as he settles in. The combination of lefty pitching and being physically worn out may have cooled the hot start to his career, but don’t be surprised if he becomes one of the top performing Brewers prospects soon.