Desire and determination are what allowed 2013 Huntsville Stars’ pitcher Eric Marzec to reach the professional ranks of baseball and study the game abroad in Australia early in October.
“Come the end of the year meetings I sat down with Gord (Ash) and those guys when they came down to Huntsville and I spoke of my desire to play winter ball,” Marzec said. “They talked to me about wanting me to continue developing and this and that.”
Little did Marzec know he would need to travel to the Southern Hemisphere where he pitched for the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League.
“I just wanted to get out of Ohio and play a little bit this winter,” Marzec said. “And I also wanted to learn a little bit more.”
The Ohio native responded with multiple stellar outings including four appearances where he held opponents hitless, striking out 11 batters in six cumulative innings for the Aces.
In his final appearance January 18 against Brisbane, he fanned six Bandits through three innings of work.
If not for the sole outing December 28 against the league leading Perth Heat where allowed four earned runs in 0.1 innings, he could have accumulated three total earned runs through 14 innings.
“It was an awesome experience and I definitely think it was worth it,” Marzec said.
Marzec indicated maintaining relationships with his family and friends back in the United States was difficult including phone calls to his father at 3 am.
However, Marzec’s baseball life was not without disappointment but he was able to utilize the obstacles in his path as motivation to forge ahead.
The right-handed pitcher rose from the ranks of Central Catholic High School’s junior varsity squad to become a 30th Round Draft selection by Milwaukee in 2010.
“It goes back to when I was in high school and started seeing my same age group get called up to varsity and I wasn’t
one of them,” Marzec said.
Marzec expressed passion for the game when he talked with Brewers Farm Report about his motivation.
“It was something that I cared deeply about. I really believed I was good enough and it was something that lit the fire,” Marzec added.
Milwaukee had ideas other than his primary position of center field while he was in college and made the decision to convert him to pitcher.
“I was a position player in college and a Brewers scout gave me a chance and saw something in me as a pitcher,” Marzec said. “They wanted me to be reliever and I want to be in the Major Leagues and I will do anything I can.”
With his new position as a relief pitcher within the Brewers’ organization, there came a learning curve.
“I was always the guy that came out of center field and pitched as hard as I could,” Marzec said. “When they drafted me I realized I had to actually pitch and that is what I have been learning the last couple as far as repertoire goes.”
His progression through the Milwaukee organization was slow but steady, beginning his career in 2010 by splitting time between Rookie Arizona League Brewers and Pioneer League Helena.
Marzec accumulated 46 strikeouts compared to merely nine walks through 33.2 innings during his first season.
After a rough initial campaign with Huntsville in 2012 where he allowed 12 earned runs through 14.1 innings, he responded with his best professional season in 2013.
“I was pretty disappointed when they sent me to Brevard to start the season and it was kind of lighting the fire,” Marzec said in regards to his assignment to the High A Florida State League squad.
The right-hander made the best of his opportunity allowing one earned run through 5.2 innings with the Manatees before earning a rapid promotion back to Huntsville.
His 43 games in relief were third only to Greg Holle (51) and Casey Medlen (48) and tossed 54.1 innings with 51 strikeouts compared to 20 walks.
In addition, his 20 earned runs through the progression of his Stars’ campaign yielded him a meager 1.99 ERA.
Marzec continues to improve upon his pitch combination of fastball and slider with a developing change-up.
“I have been working on my changeup with the coaches the last three years and I am just now starting to trust it in game situations,” Marzec said.
The 26-year-old stated he has the ability to manufacture the slurve, a curveball/slider combination with varying speeds.
In the midst of a tough season for the Double A Stars, Marzec remained positive about his teammates including the see-saw battle for the Southern League Home Run crown between Brock Kjeldgaard and 2013 Brewers’ Minor League Player of the Year Jason Rogers.
“He is one of the guys that takes a lot of flack for a lot of teammates as far as getting a rise out of people,” Marzec said in regards to Rogers. “As much as he takes and gives out, he does work hard.”
In addition, Marzec indicated Rogers has a positive and sincere demeanor toward others.
“There are a lot of personalities in baseball and he is one of the genuine guys,” Marzec said. “Quiet, I would say. He can be goofy.”
Rogers’ goofy side was demonstrated in the clubhouse when Marzec frequented the ping pong table where the first baseman and Kjeldgaard would face off.
“Those two are great team guys in the clubhouse always having fun,” Marzec said. “Both of them as well as myself always find ourselves around the ping pong table.”
Marzec stated to Brewers Farm Report he is proud of what Rogers accomplished during the season where he blasted 22 home runs, second behind Kjeldgaard in the Southern League,
“It was really big for him and it was really cool and he deserved it,” Marzec said. “Especially after that monster season he had.”
Marzec remains active in his hometown during the off-season including involvement within the community and has added further college education to his agenda.
“I have friends that are still here and are very involved in Boys and Girls Clubs and I come into schools and speak to the kids,” Marzec said.
In addition, he remains supportive to his Mother’s efforts at her church during the holiday season.
“My mom is heavily involved in the local church so I go over there and she gets me involved in activities when it comes to the holidays,” Marzec said.
Following his undergraduate degree in Finance from Youngstown State, he enrolled in a Masters of Business Program at a nearby private college.
“I want to make the best use of my time and kind of want to better myself,” Marzec said in regards to taking MBA classes during the off season.