Erceg makes MLB debut with childhood team

May 20th, 2023

HOUSTON -- grew up an Oakland A’s fan, and on Friday, he made his MLB debut for his childhood team.

Erceg pitched the 8th inning of an 5-1 loss to the Astros, allowing a run and picking up a strikeout.

It’s been a long road for the 28-year-old righty, who was drafted in the second round of 2016 MLB Draft as a third baseman and later converted to a pitcher.

Erceg, who grew up in San Jose, said he was excited for the opportunity.

“This is kind of how baseball is telling me it’s a full circle game,” Erceg said.

The A’s acquired Erceg from Milwaukee for cash considerations on Wednesday. Erceg went 3-1 with a 6.46 ERA in 13 relief appearances with Triple-A Nashville. After converting from hitter to pitcher in 2021, he went 2-6 with a 5.29 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 22 appearances (13 starts).

“Just getting to make my Major League debut with my hometown team is something that I’ve always dreamt about as a kid growing up,” Erceg said. “There’s not really many words to put to the sort of emotion and experience that you get to live this way. I’m just grateful, and really excited to be here.”

Oakland manager Mark Kotsay was impressed with what he’s seen from Erceg so far.

“He’s got a big arm,” Kotsay said. “That big arm has led him to the big leagues. He’s a power guy, 95-97 [mph] with sink. Four pitch guy. The upside is there, and he’s going to make his Major League debut sometime this weekend.”

True to his word, Kotsay made sure Ergec's first appearance came in a non-leverage situation to help ease him into the Majors.

Erceg had a small rooting section in Houston, including his wife, one of his best friends from high school and his friend’s father, as well as an old baseball coach who Erceg considered a father figure.

The journey to the Majors was not easy, but ultimately, the hard work paid off.

“Being drafted in ’16 as a position player, it didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but I still had the second opportunity to continue my career as a pitcher, and I’ve put in a lot of hard work to get to where I am today,” Erceg said. “I’m just blessed that I had that second opportunity. The pitching in my back pocket to keep me up.”