When the Padres selected Eric Lauer in the June 2016 draft, word around the baseball community was that he was easily the most polished collegiate pitcher.
After going 10-2 in 2016 at Kent State, with a mind-blowing 0.69 ERA, expectations are very high for this young man.
He has not disappointed at all this season, recording a 1.97 ERA in his first eight starts of the season for the Lake Elsinore baseball club.
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with Eric after a game, in the Storm’ locker room. It was Thursday night, and the team was coming off a tough shutout loss at the hands of the Inland Empire 66ers. I was a little nervous about entering the clubhouse after a loss, but Eric was more than willing to speak with me for a few minutes.
I have had few conversations with Eric, via text, since I interviewed him prior to the season starting. I find him very approachable and extremely positive. Truth be told. I like Eric Lauer very much. Looking into his eyes, I can see the passion he has for the game and that type of demeanor is contagious in a locker room.
I first asked him about his walk rate. It is up a little bit this year and wanted to know why he thought that was the case. “I’m trying to work on some different pitches and locating them in different places. At times I think I’m trying to be a little too fine. Mostly its just that I am working on my breaking stuff. Using them more and trying different grips.”
In recent days there had been some rumors swirling that he was going to be promoted the Double-A San Antonio. Upon hearing these, I texted him a few days ago and he assured me they were just rumors. I asked Eric about the rumors, and what his thoughts were of such talk. “I heard a bunch of them. I don’t know where anyone is getting them, but I heard. They are just rumors, until I hear differently. I’d love for it to happen, but you just got to wait your turn.” The perfect way to handle such things that are out of your control. He is focused each and every start, and with that the grind of the minor league season continues for the 21-year-old hurler. The call is coming though.
Our discussion turned towards goals, and what he has set for himself this 2017 season. “I would love to go up at least one level. At least. Other than that, I don’t really have anything out of the ordinary set for me. I would however, love to be a late-year call up to the majors. To get my feet wet and such. I certainly don’t expect that kind of jump. It would be nice though.” The man is progressing really well, and the Padres will not rush him. However, if he keeps developing, then there is really nothing than can do but give him an opportunity.
The Storm clubhouse is a fun pace to be. You get that vibe right away, and that is really a necessity with so many young players trying to find them self in the game. I asked Eric about the Storm team and the feeling around the locker room. “It’s just a fun team. There aren’t any cliques here. Everyone really does get along. We all get here early because we enjoy spending time with each other.”
The last thing I asked Eric about, was the competition he has with Cal Quantrill and Joey Lucchesi. All three young pitchers were drafted in 2016 and they clearly feed off of each other. “I want both of them to do great each and every start. Because that will only make me want to be better. We push each other. It a great thing.” Seeing these young men motivate one another, in this way, is exciting. The Lake Elsinore Storm baseball team is a fun squad to watch firsthand. If you have not seen them yourself, you need to get up there.
If you wish to witness Eric Lauer toeing the rubber at the High Single-A level, you better hurry. He isn’t going to be there long.