VERMILION — Major league scouts follow him religiously and Division I universities have drooled over the possibility of landing him as a recruit.
He’s Midview’s Eric Lauer, this year’s Lorain County Mr. Baseball. Lauer was awarded this year’s prize at the annual Lorain County All-Star baseball game at Vermilion on Saturday.
“Last year, Brandyn got it,” Lauer said of Keystone’s Brandyn Sittinger, one of his summer ball teammates. “I was thinking, ‘I’m getting it next year since you got it.’ You can’t really think about it but it’s in the back of your mind. It’s not like you don’t want it.”
On the mound, Lauer was nothing less than sensational in leading Midview to a 21-7 record, its best season in school history. The Middies lost their bid for a district title Saturday night against Avon Lake, despite Lauer going 2-for-3 while playing first base.
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound lefty already has a full ride to Kent State in his hip pocket, but with all the attention he’s gotten from MLB scouts lately, his future is still somewhat in the air.
The baseball draft, after all, is right around the corner on June 6.
“Lately, everything’s really confused,” he said. “I don’t know. You have to make a decision. I’ve gotten calls from different coaches, scouts, draft advisers. Hey, do you want to go to college? What round you going in?
“You’ve got to take everything with a grain of salt. Think about the future and what you’ve got going either way. I have a great option (Kent State). It’ll have to be perfect to pass up Kent State.”
Lauer has been especially impressed with Kent pitching guru Mike Birkbeck, who is in his 17th season with the Flashes.
“Everybody knows him,” Lauer said. “He’s one of the best in the nation.”
“He’s an outstanding kid,” Midview coach Scott Jalowiec said of his ace. “We’re out here (at The Pipe Yard) and he’s throwing batting practice right-handed. He was out here having a good time and just being a 17-year-old. He’s an All-Ohio football player and he’s one of the best basketball players walking around the school, but he didn’t want to play. He’s just a great athlete.”
Lauer is 7-0 with a microscopic 0.15 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 47 innings. Batters are hitting just .077 against him. In his last three starts, he fanned 14 in each outing and had a pair of shutouts. He’s been clocked at 94 mph.
No wonder everyone’s buzzing when he takes the hill.
Lauer hadn’t allowed so much as an unearned run until Friday’s Division I district semifinal, a 7-3 win over Lakewood, who tagged him for three runs — one earned — to blemish what had been a perfect pitching mark.
“Giving up runs — it happens,” he said. “You can’t have a perfect season. It had to happen sometime. It was the third time facing them. It was a learning experience. The idea is you won’t shut everybody out in the tournament. It’s better to get it out of the way. Just play baseball and not worry about a 0.00 earned run average.”
Jalowiec is impressed by Lauer’s attitude and sense of team.
“Where he’s going to go in the next couple weeks,” Jalowiec said, “as high in the draft as he’s going to go and as much money as he’s going to make potentially, he could have easily just been by himself. Everyone would have understood that. Eric is a once-in-a-lifetime (pitcher).”
Lauer was quick to praise his teammates and gave a ton of credit to senior catcher Steven Frye, an all-county selection.
“We’ve played together since we were 10,” he said. “He knows the game. He calls all my games and I rarely shake him off. We’ve put different signs in and he picks it up really quick. He knows how to catch me and I’m more comfortable with him back there.”
Lauer’s no slouch off the mound either, batting .432 with 22 RBIs, 12 doubles and four home runs. He’s not too shabby at football either, leading the Middies in receiving last year.
“He’s the most down-to-earth kid,” Jalowiec said. “You’d never know what the future holds for this kid and how incredible it’s going to be in the next three or four years. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes or if he plays at Kent State. It’s a no-lose situation for him either way.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.