ZEBULON, N.C. - The Carolina League announced its honorary year-end All-Star team today and the Mudcats are thrilled to announce that pitcher Nate Griep was voted as relief pitcher of the year and infielder Lucas Erceg earned year-end All-Star honors at third base.
Voting for the year-end All-Star team and for the 2017 Carolina League superlatives, also announced today, was done by league managers, team general managers and local media.
Griep, 23, was by far the Carolina League's most dominant closer in 2017 having totaled a league best 28 saves (tied for the most in Mudcats franchise history) at the time of the year-end All-Star announcement on August 31. He had also pitched to a 2.49 ERA and put together a 3-1 record with 40 strikeouts and 22 walks through August 31. Griep also held opponents to a .192 average against (including a razor thin .091 average for left-handed hitters) when the year-end All-Star team was announced.
"Griep just tied the franchise record with 28 saves; he's the guy you want in a ballgame late" said Mudcats Manager Joe Ayrault about his closer. "He's a guy that I know can slam the door and get us a (victory)."
The Brewers selected Griep in the eighth round of the 2015 draft out of Kansas State University. He was also named a 2017 Carolina League mid-season All-Star earlier this year and was a 2016 Midwest League post-season All-Star while playing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers where he set the club record for saves with 23 last season.
Erceg, 21, was batting .258/.309/.421 with a .730 OPS, a team high 15 home runs and a Carolina League high 81 RBIs at the time of the announcement on August 31. The Campbell, CA native was a two time Carolina League Player of the Week Award winner in 2017 and, as of August 31, was among the league leaders in doubles (33), extra-base hits (49), total bases (207) and games (126).
Video: Erceg blasts two-run shot for Carolina
"He's one of the best third baseman I've seen come through the minor leagues," said Manager Ayrault about Erceg. "He's got a plus arm, range and glove and at the plate he's always a threat to do some damage. He's a run producer with home run potential. He's been a fun guy to have in the lineup all year long."
Erceg made his professional debut last season with the Helena Brewers after Milwaukee selected him in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Menlo College in California. He finished the 2016 season with Low-A Wisconsin and began the 2017 campaign with the Mudcats. He is currently in his first full season and second season overall.
Per the Carolina League's release, "Ademar Rifaela, Frederick's slugging outfielder, was voted Carolina League MVP, while Lynchburg starter Triston McKenzie took Pitcher of the Year honors. Lynchburg's Tony Mansolino is Manager of Year."
The Carolina Mudcats are the proud new Carolina League, Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. First established in 1991, the two-time Southern League Champion Mudcats are in their 27th consecutive season of baseball at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, N.C.
# # #
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.