by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Brewers’ Lucas Erceg has opened eyes this spring, with a big game coming about a week ago against the Cleveland Indians (2-2, 2 HR, 5 RBI). The 2016 second round pick (46th overall) didn’t take the biggest names in that game (Hoby Milner and Nick Pasquale), but that has done little to damper the excitement.
The opponent doesn’t matter, when you hit a blast where few others have accomplished. According to Tom Haudricourt and Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Erceg, 21, became something of a spring training legend Monday when he homered twice in a game against Cleveland at Goodyear, including a grand slam that landed on the roof of the right-field pavilion, one of the few drives ever to do so.”
Of course one game shouldn’t be enough, but he also made a splash after being selected hitting .327 with 9 HR (as well as 17 doubles and 4 triples) and 9 SB over 295 PA between Rookie Ball and Single-A. Those numbers helped lead to this scouting report, courtesy of MLB.com:
“Erceg has impact potential from the left side of the plate, with natural feel to hit, a solid approach and plus raw power that could make him a middle-of-the-order bat at maturity.“
That’s not to say that there aren’t questions, as there obviously should be for any 21-year old (he’ll turn 22 in May):
- Strikeouts – He posted a 21.1% strikeout rate in 180 PA at Single-A, a number that could rise further as he moves up against more advanced pitching
- Can He Handle Southpaws – He went 7-30 (.233) with a .400 SLG against LHP at Single-A (.292/.518 against RHP)
We aren’t going to raise red flags over these things, given the sample size and it being his first time playing professional baseball. They do need to be monitored, however, especially early in ’17. If he can prove that they aren’t issues he should see his grade/ranking quickly rise.
Erceg could open the season at High-A, before ultimately seeing time at Double-A before the year is out. At his age he could move even quicker than that, though the Brewers should have little reason to push him, as they give Travis Shaw (who they acquired this offseason) a chance to prove himself and still have Hernan Perez on the roster. That would mean a potential 2018 arrival, assuming Erceg proves capable.
Is he worth watching? Absolutely. Does he have upside? You bet. Is he a lock to thrive, though? Not quite yet, as his performance early in ’17 will be quite telling.
Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – B+
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: