Third-base prospect Lucas Erceg spent his entire minor league regular season with high-A Carolina last year, with a call-up to Colorado Springs for their playoff series. Lucas didn’t bust down any doors in the Carolina League, but he had a solid season. His 33 doubles were good for fourth in the league, and he knocked 15 homers in a league where the league leader had 24. A slash of .256/.307/.417, OPS of .724, doesn’t have anyone jumping up and down, demanding a trade of Travis Shaw to make room for Lucas, but it doesn’t have anyone concerned about Erceg’s prospect status, either.
Maybe his slash for the Sky Sox - 400/.466/.600, with a double every 5 at bats - is more encouraging. But that was just three games, so not many conclusions to draw there.
Lucas is 6’3”, 200 lbs, so his frame projects well for power development. If he can convert that potential into a 20-30 homer per season, left-handed third-baseman, he will have a solid major league career.
Erceg’s walk rate of 6.5% is low, but a K rate of 17.7% is manageable. At 23 next May, Lucas needs to show steady improvement to be ready in a few years for his shot at the majors. He doesn’t have the luxury of a younger prospect to spend some extra time at a lower level and develop more slowly.
Erceg has followed a meandering path to being a prospect in the Brewers’ organization. Vince Lara-Cinimoso details that journey in a good read for Baseball America that touches on a troubled home life, a high school tenure spent perhaps not as diligently as it should have been, to failing academically at Cal, to NAIA Menlo (Cal.). He produced on the field, and his availability in the second round of the 2016 draft (46th overall) is likely due to his history of not taking advantage of opportunities presented.
On defense, Erceg has a fielding percentage of .925 for his two seasons of minor league ball. He made two errors in the three games for the Sky Sox. His arm is highly rated (at 70), so he should be able to stick at the hot corner. He spent 30 games as a DH for the Mudcats, and played 97 games at third.
Erceg is still listed on the Colorado Springs roster, although it’s more likely he starts the year with AA Biloxi in 2018. There isn’t an immediate need at the major league level for a third baseman, but it is plausible that Travis Shaw could move to first base in the future and open up an opportunity at third. And of course, it is possible that Erceg’s future won’t be with the Brewers. The Milwaukee farm system, one of baseball’s best, will eventually be used in the acquisition of players as well as in stocking the big club, as with the deal that sent Ryan Cordell from Colorado Springs to the White Sox for Anthony Swarzak. (BTW, Cordell didn’t appear in any games in the White Sox system after the trade.)
Let’s hope for a break-out year for Lucas, shall we?
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball.reference