Farm Report

Lucas Erceg (#4 Prospect): Spring Progress Report

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BREW MATHs BIO

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As is the case with many Brewers on the roster, Lucas Erceg was born in California. The left-handed hitting third baseman was selected in the second round of the 2016 Draft. Since then, he has steadily climbed the minor league ranks. While he is The Brewers #4 rated prospect and has shown great potential, last year was not as productive as originally projected. That said, the 23-year-old is one of the nine Minor Leaguers that The Crew invited to Spring Training. Milwaukee is clearly invested in the young slugger. BREW MATHs reviews Erceg’s progress to see what his future might hold…

HIS PATH

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  • A rapid ascent with a very brief stint at the AAA level in 2017. Last season he played entirely with The Shuckers (AA).

STATCAST SCOUTING REPORT SUMMARY

  • Erceg has impact potential from the left side of the plate with natural feel
  • Plus raw power that helps him hit booming homeruns
    • He could be a middle of the order presence in the future.
  • Erceg is a blue-collar guy; he has a good approach and works hard on his craft
  • An athletic third baseman with good hands, good footwork and a great arm
    • He pitched as his team’s closer in college (Menlo – CA)
      • Erceg threw 93 – 94mph as a pitcher and had a WHIP of 1.22 as an undergrad… not bad for a third baseman!
  • An average runner; not a base-stealing threat
  • The Brewers see him as a possible long-term answer to third base
    • In 2019, he will be put to the test

HITTING REVIEW

PLATE PRODUCTION

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MINORS CAREER: 0.270 AVG / 0.323 OBP / 0.304 BABIP / 0.428 SLG / 0.751 OPS

  • Erceg’s plate production numbers trend down and stabilize in a ‘below average’ zone. His career wOBA of 0.293 is not so good.
    • A Career OBP of 0.323 is respectable (the MLB average each year ~0.320). This implies he is disciplined at the plate, we will soon see if that holds true…
  • His career BABIP of 0.300 is also right around what you would expect out of an average hitter. The fact that he has had 1241 at-bats means the results we see are a valid estimate of his talent level.
  • The statistics above all follow the same trend: really good in 2016, average the rest of the way. What is not shown here is how Erceg went on a tear at the end of 2018. He looked like he was putting things together and improved rapidly to close out the season.

RATE STATS

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HR TOTALS (Last three years): 9 -> 15 -> 13

 

  • Erceg strikes out progressively less while walks trend up
    • His low K rate (K%) is a big reason for hope (plate discipline is a strength)
      • Walk rate (BB%) is about league average
  • Home run percentage stabilizes around 2.6%
    • This is fairly low and does not accurately represent the power he brings to the batter’s box (NOTE: Jesus Aguilar led The National League with a HR% of 7.11 in 2018).

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  • While the lefty does pull most of his homeruns, he uses the entire field well

FIELDING REVIEW

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  • If we take out his brief experience on AAA, his career range factor averages out to be around 2.3… you can see where that would rank him amongst active MLB third baseman:

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2018 SPLITS / TENDENCIES

  • Annual Split
    • 1st Half: 0.235 AVG / 0.296 OBP / 0.343 SLG
    • 2nd Half: 0.264 AVG / 0.317 OBP / 0.429 SLG
      • After a slow start, Erceg really picked it up!
  • Batting Order (AB) – OPS
    • 3rd (148) – 0.629
    • 4th (126) – 0.636
    • 5th (167)  – 0.779
      • He clearly performed best in the 5th spot last year
  • Base Runners
    • Bases Empty: 0.261 AVG / 0.300 OBP / 0.396 SLG
    • Scoring Position: 0.235 AVG / 0.314 OBP / 0.364 SLG
  • Hits much better in AWAY games and during the DAY
  • Inning
    • Highest OPS when batting in the sixth inning (0.958)
    • Lowest OPS when hitting in the fifth (0.471)

 

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SUMMARY / CONCLUSIONs

  • Entering his fourth year in The Brewers Farm System, Lucas Erceg finds himself at a crossroads
    • On one hand, he has shown great promise after being selected with a high pick (#46, second round). His cannon arm helps him to defend the hot corner well.
    • On the other hand, he has struggled to consistently perform at the plate. In terms of his development, last year was a small step backwards.
  • There is reason for hope with Erceg since he displays top-notch plate discipline (low K%) and is a student of the game
    • After beginning his career as a pull hitter, he is learning to use the entire field
  • He is a reliable defender with a great arm
  • While starting the year slowly, Erceg finished 2018 on a tear
    • Milwaukee has noticed his efforts and have invited him to Spring Training
      • If he is able to continue building on his hot streak, he could contribute as early as this year. While 2020 is more likely, an impressive Spring Training could push the timeline forward.
  • Milwaukee roots for the ‘college closer’ to blossom into the ‘third baseman of the future’… Can he take the next steps?!?
    • Tune in this Spring!

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