Padres Eric Lauer Interview- Progression Through Dedication

Credit: MiLB

Credit: MiLB.com

 

Eric Lauer is about to enter his first full season of professional baseball, and like most young pitchers, he is really anxious to prove his worth to the franchise that took the chance and drafted him.

He understands that all the accolades he garnered in college mean nothing now at this level, and currently it is every man for himself. The level of competition has naturally gotten better now that he is a pro, so I asked him about that; what he felt was the biggest adjustment to life as a professional as opposed to a collegiate. “I think for me, the biggest shock was the amount of time and the amount of people who you have to get used to. You change locations and staff so much, you have to get used to people almost immediately. I was with three different coaching staffs last year in like three months. In college I had the same staff for three years and you get a chance to ease into everyone’s personality. The Padres mini-camp was great idea. It gave us a chance to meet the staff and get used to them, and now it doesn’t have to be an instant thing in the spring.” This response really got me thinking. He was right. Something that most people do not consider is the tough life these young ball players have, especially those that are highly touted as, in a sense, they are rushed through a system because their skill level is more advanced than others.

We conversed about the Padres’ organization in detail. Eric is from Ohio, and he certainly had never followed the Padres’ team in great detail before his June selection by the franchise. We spoke about the common perception the Padres organization has around the nation. The Padres have had a long history of failing to cultivate talent, and that is not a secret. Eric could only speak of what he has seen over the past eight months, but he is certainly stoked for what he has witnessed so far. “You hear everything through everyone else, but when you are there and meet these people and are around them, you see how hard they work. I am really excited for the group of guys we have that are leading the charge. They know what they are doing and we see that first hand.”

The depth of the Padres minor league system is dumbfounding. There is so much talent throughout the minors that the players are excited each and every day to show up at the ballpark. We spoke about the depth of the team, and the fact the amount of talent around him will only make him better.”Having all these guys around will make me pick my game up and battle each and everyday. I am really excited for what these next couple of years have in store for me.” Cal Quantrill in particular has bonded with Lauer and that is a great thing. The duo have high hopes to one day be anchoring the Padres’ rotation. Their friendship now will only help guide each of them once they begin to get their feet wet. “Cal is the main guy who challenges me. Since we first got drafted, the team took us to the side and told us to stick together and lead the charge. We took that challenge and want to move up together through the system and push each other the whole time.” This is awesome. These two will push each other and those around them. Only good things can happen with this type of competitive spirit.

Credit: Bowman

We spoke a little about his pitching and his thought process. I asked Eric if he attacked left-handed hitters or right-handed hitters differently. Without giving away too much, I was interested in his approach with his slider and if he plans to be more aggressive with it solely against left-handed hitters. “My main game plan each start is to locate fastballs. I’m not going to blow anyone away with velocity or amazing stuff. I have a good slider. But my location and my command are my bread and butter. I’m going to be 90-93 MPH all game, putting it on both sides of the plate and locating it up and down. I’m also very comfortable in throwing any of my pitches, in any count. The change and curve presently have a little less command than my other two pitches, but I will still throw them in any count. I attack both lefties and righties the same and just try to get outs.”

The left-handed pitcher has spent two different occasions around the Padres’ major league staff at Petco Park. He was here in the Future’s Games this past November, as well as his Padres mini-camp experience in January. The Padres are continually giving these upper tiered minor league players a taste of the major league experience in order to motivate them. This is a great thing, as a young player will surely go the extra mile with their work knowing what the end result can be. Having a chance to interact with major leaguers and the major league coaching staff is a necessity for young talent.

Eric Lauer is certainly encouraged by what he is seeing at the major league level. “Up top we have Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, and Luis Perdomo. The bigger named guys. When you talk to those guys, you see that they really love baseball and it makes it feel like more of a team. They are not egotistical about themselves. Everybody is there to help each other. They just want to be a good team and that is awesome.” This feeling of a team effort is something the fans are embracing. There were a lot of personalities and egos on this team in the past two seasons. They are all gone now and the team is embracing a new philosophy towards building a winning franchise.

As a young pitcher it is great to set goals. The lanky left-handed pitcher is still formulating his for the upcoming season. Health and production are obviously what he wants, but he chose his words carefully as he expressed to me what he truly wants to accomplish in 2017. “The big goal is to get a shot at the end of the year. Hopefully to just get a chance to get a taste of what it is going to be like, depending on how the season goes for everyone. But that’s what I am working for most.” Just like his fellow first round selection, Cal Quantrill, Lauer wants to pitch for the Padres come September (if not sooner). That might not be a reality just yet, but you never really know. Stranger things have happened in the world of baseball. One thing you can be sure of is that Eric Lauer will be physically and mentally ready if and when that call comes.

Here is some video of Lauer taken last September while he was pitching for Fort Wayne. Notice his easy motion and stress-free delivery.

Lauer is 21, and will be 22 in June. He has a very bright future ahead of him. The current state of the Padres team dictates that they will not rush their prized left-handed pitcher. We spoke briefly about a pitch count, and if he believes he will be on one to start the season. I also wanted to know his thoughts about it and he gladly responded. “They haven’t said anything yet, but I’m positive there will be of some sort. Hopefully its nothing too strict and I’ll have the opportunity to get to 100 pitches.” The team will take it easy on him, but his motion and delivery relieve any concerns of arm issues. Still, at 21, the team will limit his innings, and his production will surely dictate how far he progresses within the Padres’ system.

I talked to Eric only days after the death of Yordano Ventura. The game of baseball is a fraternity, and in particular when you are a pitcher, the bond is very close. I asked Eric about his thoughts on that situation, as well as the loss of Jose Fernandez earlier in the year. Obviously he didn’t know Ventura or Fernandez, but the loss still hits hard for a young pitcher. “It was a devastating thing to the game of baseball because they were such young guys with such a bright future. You could see how they loved the game when they played it. To see them go and they are only a couple of years older than myself makes it more real for me. It puts it into perspective for you.”

I really enjoyed my time speaking to Eric Lauer. I found him very respectful and extremely approachable. You get a sense of his potential in talking to him. The man is eager to learn, but at the same time he possesses a confidence that is needed when the going gets tough. There will be a time when Lauer will have his back against the wall in the game of baseball. You can be sure he has the intangibles to recover from any setback in the game, and with that, his ceiling is immeasurable. Keep an eye on this young man, and do not be surprised if you see him in a Padres uniform shortly.

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James Clark
James was born and raised in America's Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that's our motto. Enjoy.
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