MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers drafted a junior college pitcher in the 20th round Wednesday whose story reads like Lucas Erceg, the sequel.
Erceg is a third baseman who already ranks seventh on MLBPipeline.com's list of Milwaukee's top prospects. Austin Rubick is a right-handed a pitcher poised to start his professional career after the Brewers selected him with the 594th overall pick of the 2017 Draft. Yet, they have strikingly similar backstories.
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Both are from California and paid a price for having a little too much fun as freshmen at big-time colleges. Erceg had to leave Cal for tiny Menlo College before the Brewers made him their second-round pick in 2016. Rubick, highly touted out of high school in Ventura County, turned down a chance to go pro with the Indians in 2015 after they drafted him in the 27th round, choosing instead to attended the University of Arizona.
His numbers there weren't pretty, in the classroom or on the mound. Rubick posted a 1.9 GPA and an 8.10 ERA in 11 games, leading to his ouster from the program.
So he returned home for a fresh start at Ventura College.
"My stats on the season weren't the greatest," said Rubick, who allowed 54 hits and 45 walks in 57 innings, "But I really got to learn who I was through adversity. Honestly, I feel like I am more prepared than I have ever been.
"I still look at it as my first chance, because I don't think I would have lasted if I would have signed the first time. I needed to grow up."
Ventura College offered a chance to begin anew. Rubick's fastball reached 94 mph in the fall, and Brewers scouting director Tod Johnson said Milwaukee likes Rubick's competitiveness and frame.
"You take a chance on guys ... who look like this," Johnson said.
"From the day he showed up on this campus, we all knew his main goal was, 'I want to go play professional baseball,'" said Steve Hardesty, Ventura's top assistant coach. "He wanted to get back to who he used to be. It took some time, he took his lumps here and there, but there were days you could see the 'old Austin.' The kid everyone used to show up to see.
"I think he will sign. I can't guarantee that, but I know this is his goal."
Rubick does have a scholarship offer at the University of Hawaii if he doesn't sign with the Brewers.
"I've always wanted to play pro ball," Rubick said. "Ever since I was a kid in that little tee-ball uniform, that's all I ever wanted to do. ... I want to sign. Let me see that paperwork and we'll get to work."
In fact, Rubick already has the right cap. When he was a high school prospect, he played for the Brewers' Area Codes team coached by Milwaukee scout Dan Huston. The two talked then about the possibility that Rubick could someday play at Miller Park.
On Wednesday, it was Huston who called to inform Rubick the Brewers had drafted him.
"I'm still only 19, and this is just a ticket to start," Rubick said. "I don't want to be the stereotypical guy saying, 'I want to get there [to the big leagues] in two years.' I want to work as hard as I can, and I'm going to let what will be, be. I believe by going that, I will get to where I want to go."