Houston Astros Draft Profile: Eric Lauer
In less than a week, all the speculation regarding the order of the 2016 Draft will be put to rest as teams will finalize their selections and make the dreams of over 1,000 players come true. Some players will get picked higher than experts thought. Some will be picked lower. Some will have a long trip to the show, and some will have a quick one. Eric Lauer could easily be the latter.
Lauer is a LHP pitcher who attended Midview High School in Ohio where he was an All-State WR and the #1 prospect out of Ohio as a baseball player. Lauer was drafted in the 17th Round by the Blue Jays, but did not sign due to his strong commitment to Kent State.
Lauer is 6’3″, 205 pounds and is able to repeat his smooth delivery effortlessly, which leads many to believe he can pitch for a long time without major injury. His fastball hits 90-92 mph topping out at 94, and he features a slider that hits anywhere from 79-83 mph, and a Changeup and Curve that both hit in the mid-70s. His control is improving, as he has improved his BB/9 rate every year in college.
As a Freshman at Kent State, Kent won the Friday Night Starter role and started his college career Off strong with an 8-4 record with a 3.26 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18, striking out 64 in 80 innings and holding the opposition to a .204 batting average.
Lauer followed up his solid Freshman campaign by becoming one of College Baseball’s true aces in his Sophomore year, pitching to a 5-4 record with a 1.98 ERA, improving a lot of his other stats, such as his 10.76 K/9 rate, striking out 103 over 86.1 innings and improving his WHIP and opponent batting average to 1.03 and .203 respectively.
But his previous 2 years suffer in comparison to his Junior Year, as Lauer has put together one of the best seasons in College Baseball history, becoming one of the most dominant pitchers in the country. Lauer recorded the lowest ERA since 1979 with a sensational 0.69 ERA, allowing just 3 ERs in his final 12 starts and continuing his reign of terror among college bats, striking out 125 over 104 innings while recording an incredibly low 0.74 WHIP and an insane .145 opponent batting average.
On May 13th, Lauer capped off his unbelievable season by throwing a no-hitter against Bowling Green while striking out 13 and walking none, defeating them by a score of 14-0. An error in the field was the only thing separating him from a Perfect Game. That performance puts the icing on the cake for Lauer’s career at Kent State, as he moves forward having been one of the most successful and dominant pitchers in Kent State’s history, but his story most certainly does not end there.
Despite the brilliant season for Lauer and Kent State finishing 44-14, including 20-4 in conference play, Kent State did not make a Regional Tournament, meaning Lauer is most likely done at Kent State unless he is unhappy with next week’s draft results. If all goes well, Lauer will get his chance to prove he is as good as advertised very soon in Minor League Baseball.
A good comparison for Eric Lauer is Drew Smyly. Smyly was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Arkansas. Like Lauer, Smyly pitched with a fastball sitting 91-92 MPH while mixing in a curve and a change. Smyly has had a solid career to this point but has struggled with some injuries. Both guys profile may not profile as an “ace” but are key guys who a team can build around.
Lauer will be an interesting prospect to follow on Draft Night, as it is uncertain where he could end up. Teams in the middle of the first round have expressed interest, including the Astros, but he could realistically end up in the Compensation Rounds. His stock isn’t as high as other college arms due to the fact he isn’t pitching at a big Power 5 school, though he should not be penalized for no fault of his own. Lauer will be dominant anywhere he goes. If the Astros see something they really like from him, Luhnow could very easily make the decision to select Lauer.
As the draft draws closer, we’ve seen the Astros linked mostly to college arms and the occasional prep hitter, and Lauer is no exception. Lauer is one of many players the Astros could choose from if multiple players they are linked to are available at #17. Lauer could be one of the quicker risers through the system though. One could expect him to make a serious push for a 2017 Sept. Call-Up spot or a 2018 Opening Day Roster spot if he continues his dominance in the Minors, though that is a relatively big “if”.
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