By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Steffan Wilson typically arrives at the Brewers' Minor League complex a few days early to get a jump on Spring Training. This year, that proved a very wise decision.
Wilson was extended a surprise, last-minute invitation to big league camp on Feb. 28 when the Brewers discovered the roster was thin at first base behind Prince Fielder. Fortunately, Wilson was ready to answer the call.
"I showed up one day and three days later they said, 'Get your stuff, they need you over there [in the Major League clubhouse],'" he said.
Wilson made his third Cactus League start on Wednesday against the Padres, not bad for a 23-year-old who played at the Class A level last season. He was in a prospect-rich group at Brevard County, Fla. and batted .272 with 13 home runs, 15 doubles and 60 RBIs.
While other players in camp are working to make the team, Wilson is working to leave a good impression.
"It's a little different," he said. "I don't think this will affect where I start the season this year. I guess the goal is to, just by being around, have the right people know my name in the back of their heads. I want them to know I can play a little bit."
Manager Ken Macha first noticed Wilson last spring, when they played in a foursome together as part of a team golf event and discovered they share Pennsylvania roots. Macha, who has a degree in civil engineering, also likes the fact that Wilson, a Harvard man, has a brain under his baseball cap.
Now, the skipper is noticing Wilson's ability on the baseball diamond.
"He's been impressive," Macha said. "Intense guy. He was taking his warm-up swings and he's looking like Mike Sweeney more every day. Big, strong first baseman. Hits the ball all over the ballpark."
Through March 28, Wilson had appeared in 14 games with six hits including a double and six walks for a .343 on-base-percentage with four RBI.
Wilson was Milwaukee's 28th-round pick in the 2007 Draft and he's among a number of Minor Leaguers who have already seen action in Cactus League games this spring. Spring Training rules allow teams to list extra players for the Major League games, and the Brewers make liberal use of the policy.
What should the young players get out of the experience?
"Just play," Macha said. "Most of them, I get in, so they ought to be ready to play. That's part of my philosophy. This is an opportunity. Last year, they won a lot of games for us, and now those guys that were doing that -- [Lorenzo] Cain, [Adam] Heether -- they're in our camp now."
Fellow first baseman Chris Errecart, Wilson's roommate during part of last season at Brevard County, got a shot against the Giants on Saturday and made the most of it. He homered over the 40-foot tall batter's eye in center field at Maryvale Baseball Park.
"That's a good way to start Spring Training," Errecart said. "Once all the [other Minor League] players got around me, it was just like another game."