School: Kent State
Height/Weight: 6’3″, 205 lb
Previously Drafted: 2013, 17th (505) – TOR
2016 Stats: 10-2, 0.69 ERA, 125 SO, 104.0 IP (15 GS), 0.74 WHIP, 2.42 BB/9, 10.82 SO/9
“Lauer’s athletic, effortless delivery allows him to repeat his mechanics and throw quality strikes. While he doesn’t have a true out pitch or a lofty ceiling, he may have a higher floor than any left-hander in the 2016 Draft. Lauer projects as a mid-rotation starter.” – MLB Pipeline
“Lauer is a 6-3, 205 pound lefty, currently age 20 and turning 21 the first week of June. The former high school wide receiver is loose and athletic, featuring low-effort mechanics that should help him stay healthy. He is a classic college lefty with a low-90s fastball. His slider is his best secondary pitch, but his curveball and change-up are respectable and he commands everything quite well. His intelligence, makeup and mound presence are also highly-regarded. Obviously the complete package has been too much for MAC hitters to handle this spring.” – John Sickels, SB Nation
“Lauer also features a curveball that he uses as more of a change-of-pace surprise than a true swing-and-miss pitch. It will likely only be a fringe-average pitch, but Lauer already uses it the way he most likely will in pro ball.” – ESPN (Insider)
Note: These grades are summations based on available scouting information from sources such as Baseball America, MLB.com, and SB Nation.
(Present/Future value, 20-80 scale)
Change up: 45/50
Prospect Overview and Future Outlook:
If you’re looking for a high-floor player that could move quickly to an MLB rotation, Eric Lauer is your guy. The southpaw is a superb athlete, having also been a star wide receiver in high school. He was highly rated as a prep player back in 2013, although signability concerns saw him drop to the 17th round.
Those concerns were valid as Lauer followed through with his strong commitment to Kent State. Lauer excelled in his first two seasons for the Golden Flashes, and continued to shine against top tier talent in the Cape Cod summer league following his sophomore season.
Now a junior, Lauer’s stats speak for themselves. The lefty leads all of division I baseball with a sparkling 0.69 ERA. That’s paired with a healthy portion of innings (104.0 IP) and a SO/9 ratio (10.82) that has the looks of what you’d see from a frontline starter. Lauer simply gets it done from the mound. So how is he so effective?
Lauer has a balanced and diverse arsenal. It’s essentially the perfect starter’s kit, as he has four offerings that project to be a part of his repertoire moving forward given his strong command.
His fastball is his best pitch. It ranges from 90-93 MPH and his velocity is up from where it was in the the Cape league (more around 89-91 MPH). Lauer also stands to add a little bit to his frame, so I think the fastball still has some projection in it. With decent downward movement already existent, I think it’s his best chance for a true plus-pitch.
The rest of his offerings are less flashy, but effective nonetheless. His slider is probably second on his pitching totem pole. He can rev it up to around 86 MPH, which makes it play almost like a cutter. The slider is particularly effective at generating whiffs against left-handed competition, so it’s likely his go to offering in a swing-and-miss situation. Then again, the curve has its appeal as well. Lauer can get it up to 77 MPH and it’s sharpest when he puts more power into it. His change-up is more projection than a current weapon, although it may never be better than a fringe-average offering.
What I like about Lauer is his delivery. It’s very clean and repeatable and the consistency should help his lesser stuff play up as it enables him to regularly pound the zone. My favorite quote on Lauer’s delivery comes from Burke Granger over at Prospect Junkies:
“I was chatting with an NL cross checker who commented that a glass of water could be placed on Lauer’s head and he could complete his delivery without spilling a drop.”
If there’s one knock on Lauer’s delivery, I feel it’s in his lack of deception with his arm movement. His hand comes over the top of his head, which I like, but the ball doesn’t explode out of thin air. At one point, he drops his arm to the side behind his back and there’s a distinct moment where the grip is entirely exposed. Without exceptional stuff, his success will rely heavily on him outsmarting the hitter, adding deception and mixing up his sequences. Either way, I’d hope that whichever team does draft Lauer doesn’t force him to made a huge adjustment because the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage definitely applies here. The delivery is otherwise textbook and very pretty to watch. The results tend to agree as well.
There’s a dichotomy between a pitcher who flashes electric stuff but may never have the command to amount to anything and someone who sports a high floor. There are also those who lack any sort of projection aside from one or two plus pitches. That type of profile screams reliever, but with Lauer you’re definitely getting a starter, and one that is almost a sure shot to pitch his way into the big leagues.
The most common critique of Lauer is that the ceiling is low. I agree that his best chance is topping out as a number three and that’s if everything skews to the right side of average. Still, the floor is enticing enough because I could see him slotting into the back end of a rotation as soon as midway through 2018.
Eric Lauer would be an ill-advised reach at pick ten, but he’d be a nice get at number 26. MLB Pipeline ranks him 27th on their draft board, while ESPN’s Keith Law is more bearish on Lauer, and has him just on the edge of the top half at 51. I’m inclined to think he’s still a comp round guy rather than a second rounder because of that aforementioned four pitch mix.
In other words, if the White Sox want Eric Lauer, I think they can forget about him being there when they pick 49th. In a draft that has a strength of high school pitching, Lauer offers some reliability and risk abatement. I still think the White Sox will go bat with their tenth pick, so it’s not a bad idea to get their specialty college arm with the comp pick.
You could interchange Lauer’s name with a trio of righties in Georgia’s Robert Tyler, Illinois’ Cody Sedlock, and Pitt’s T.J. Zeuch, all of whom are potentially in play for the White Sox at 26. ESPN’s Keith Law hears the White Sox on Tyler, and our Rob Young came out with a profile on Illinois native Sedlock today. I’d say out of the college arms above, Lauer offers the best chance to stick at starter. However, Law’s latest mock draft has the White Sox going for prep SS Gavin Lux at 26 with Lauer being plucked promptly after at #27 to the Orioles. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis concurs Law’s opinion on Lux at 26 and has Lauer going to the Mets at #31.
Baseball America is the one publication that has the White Sox selecting Lauer and they reported that they scouted him during the MACC tournament. All but Baseball America see arms like Sedlock and Zeuch being gone by the time the South Siders make their selection, so they could very well be choosing between Tyler and Lauer if they go arm.
In any case, with Lauer, you’re not getting a lotto ticket but rather netting a safer arm that Chicago can exchange, or more likely, develop him as a back of the rotation starter for the long run. Depending on who the White Sox pick at #10, it might be better for them to stand on the sturdy floorboards rather than grasp at the ceiling for a rising helium prospect with a higher risk assessment.
*Interested in other possible future White Sox? Check out our other published draft profiles below and keep an eye out for ones that are upcoming.*
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