Milwaukee Brewers: What should they do with Lucas Erceg?

Next year is Lucas Erceg’s age-24 season. Should the Milwaukee Brewers make him a part of their future or could he end up as trade bait?

It was expected that Lucas Erceg would rise quickly through the season when he was drafted out of college by the Milwaukee Brewers with 46th overall pick in 2016. Erceg just completed a full season at Double-A, and he’s already rated has the fourth best prospect in the Brewers system. Could he make his way to the Major League roster next year, or will he have to move on to find and every day role?

How did Erceg do in 2018?

Erceg actually struggled in Double-A with Biloxi. He posted a .248/.306/.382 slash line in 508 plate appearances. He managed to bash 13 homers and drive in 51 runs. Erceg walked at a 7.3% clip, but struck out in 16.1% of his plate appearances. Erceg’s .134 ISO was the lowest of his professional career.

The good news is that his walk rate was the highest of his professional career, and whacked 21 doubles.

What happened to Erceg’s power?

Erceg raised his walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate, and his power disappeared. What gives? It’s clear that Erceg was developing his pitch recognition skills, and sacrificed power for developing his approach. He has a 55/60 raw power rating, and a 40/55 game power rating. That doesn’t just go away for a player who’s only 23 years old. His power is likely to rebound in 2019. If it doesn’t Erceg, and the Milwaukee Brewers, have a problem.

Where should Erceg start 2019?

Good question. If the Milwaukee Brewers are pleased with his progress, and think he’s ready, Erceg could move up to Triple-A next year. Erceg could force his way to Triple-A with strong showing in the Spring. He could also repeat Double-A with a rough Spring. We really won’t know for sure until the Brewers give him his assignment.

What about Erceg’s future?

This is a little murky right now. The Milwaukee Brewers have Travis Shaw on the roster. The only way he moves off the hot corner for a full season is if the Brewers bring back Mike Moustakas or add another third baseman. Erceg isn’t going to push Shaw off the roster or to second base. Moustakas might.

As the Milwaukee Brewers are presently constructed, Erceg has a blocked path to a full-time role. The only way Erceg makes it to the Major League roster is if he moves to the outfield and assumes a utility role, moves to first and develops more in-game power, or gets traded.

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The Milwaukee Brewers have shown a willingness to flip prospects that they’re unsure of, but they do tend to hold on to the guys they believe in. The fact that Erceg has stayed with the team through the most recent round of trades shows that the Brewers still think highly of him. He may not move out of the system, but he needs to develop if he’s going to move up.