MILWAUKEE -- Teams don't pick for need in the early rounds of the MLB Draft, but the Brewers' second-rounder on Thursday happens to play the organization's thinnest position.Milwaukee spent the 46th overall selection on Lucas Erceg, a power-hitting third baseman who won All-Pac 12 honors at Cal as a sophomore
MILWAUKEE -- Teams don't pick for need in the early rounds of the MLB Draft, but the Brewers' second-rounder on Thursday happens to play the organization's thinnest position.
Milwaukee spent the 46th overall selection on Lucas Erceg, a power-hitting third baseman who won All-Pac 12 honors at Cal as a sophomore before transferring last year to Menlo College, an NAIA program, reportedly because of academic ineligibility. He pitched in college as well, but will exclusively play third base as a pro, Brewers scouting director Ray Montgomery said.
"Lucas is a third baseman," Montgomery said. "He has all the tools for the position."
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• 5th overall: Corey Ray, OF
• 75th overall: Mario Feliciano, C
A left-handed batter and right-handed thrower, Erceg batted .308 with 15 doubles, 20 home runs and 56 RBIs in 56 games with Menlo while posting a 0.78 ERA with six saves in 11 appearances on the mound. He struck out 32 batters and walked eight in 23 innings, including one start, with a fastball in the 93- to 94-mph range.
The challenge for scouts was evaluating those numbers against a lower level of competition at Menlo versus Erceg's performance at Cal, which is a premier college program. The Brewers faced a similar challenge last season with right-hander Cody Ponce, a second-rounder out of Cal Poly-Pomona.
"The nice thing is having had the history with him at Cal," Montgomery said. "We had pretty good tabs on him."
Brewers area scout Joe Graham and West Coast regional supervisor Corey Rodriguez have the most history with Erceg.
"From my perspective, dealing with some adversity, and having to transfer, it really reset my mind and shifted my mental focus, I think," Erceg told the website D1Baseball.com in February. "I think the biggest thing for me is just realizing the mistakes I made in the past, and realizing that I need to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"I think you have to look at the things you've done wrong, and you do right, and just move forward in general."
Erceg was the second of three Brewers selections on Day 1 of the Draft. They took University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray with the fifth overall pick, and prep catcher Mario Feliciano from Puerto Rico at No. 75 overall in Lottery Round B.
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.