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Prospect Erceg making most of second chance

2016 second-rounder found home at Menlo College after leaving Cal
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

PHOENIX -- Brewers third base prospect Lucas Erceg enjoyed his first big Major League moment Wednesday when his ground ball rolled through the right side of the infield at Maryvale Baseball Park for a walk-off single in the team's 3-2 win over the Reds.

For a player trying to make the most of a second chance in baseball, Erceg is making a good first impression.

PHOENIX -- Brewers third base prospect Lucas Erceg enjoyed his first big Major League moment Wednesday when his ground ball rolled through the right side of the infield at Maryvale Baseball Park for a walk-off single in the team's 3-2 win over the Reds.

For a player trying to make the most of a second chance in baseball, Erceg is making a good first impression.

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"That's a fun moment for him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

Video: CIN@MIL: Erceg belts a walk-off single to right

Erceg, a 21-year-old infielder, was Milwaukee's second-round Draft pick last season and is the first player from that crop of prospects to play in a Major League Spring Training game. He is not in Milwaukee's big league camp, but has been among the players brought over from a Minor League minicamp to help the Brewers fill in the final innings while the team's regulars build up their workload.

The Brewers drafted Erceg out of Menlo College in Atherton, Calif., a small liberal arts school at the other end of the San Francisco Bay from the University of California at Berkeley, where Erceg began his collegiate career. He transferred in 2015 after being declared academically ineligible at Cal.

Video: Top Prospects: Lucas Erceg, 3B, Brewers

In hindsight, Erceg has said, he should have studied more and partied less. But that's in the past now.

"I was very fortunate to get the second opportunity, especially with the transfer from Cal and going to Menlo," Erceg said. "I did well, changed my time management, my priorities. Pretty much hit the reset button. It took a lot. It took a very big toll on me just because I felt like I let a lot of people down.

"But having the second opportunity has been a blessing. I've had to rekindle some relationships that I've had in the past, but for the most part it's awesome."

He said he recognizes the opportunity "all day, every day."

"I let myself down, I let my family down, I let people that have been supporting me throughout my lifetime down," Erceg said. "I wake up in the morning with that focus, trying to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Tweet from @Brewers: RECAP: #Brewers 2016 draft pick Lucas Erceg walks it off against the Reds. https://t.co/3isky7l4Uu #CactusCrew pic.twitter.com/BqLdSyWtSV

Erceg pitched in college and played some shortstop during the Brewers' Fall Instructional League, but it appears his future is at third base, a relatively thin position -- for now -- in a Milwaukee farm system stocked with shortstops.

He already has appeared twice with the Major League club in Spring Training games, with two hits in four at-bats.

"They always say, 'It's a great time to be a Brewer,' and it's kind of a little kick in the butt," Erceg said. "There are a lot of guys behind me and a lot of guys in front of me that are fighting for the same spot that I am. It's kind of an inner competition. But at the end of the day you want to help your team win. You want to see your teammates succeed. Most definitely, it's a great time to be a Brewer."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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