Brandon Erbe, RHP, Baltimore Orioles
Brandon Erbe was a third round pick last June, out of high school in Baltimore, making him a nice local pick. He was well-respected as a high school pitcher, but a scholarship to the University of Miami put his signability in question. The Orioles got him to sign, and it looks like they have a bargain.
Erbe was erratic-but-promising in rookie ball, posting a 4.15 ERA combined between Bluefield and Aberdeen. He walked 14 guys in 30 innings, a bit higher than ideal. But he also struck out 57 while allowing only 14 hits and one home run. He didn't get a huge amount of off-season press, but I gave him a Grade B in my book this year, and pointed him out as a major sleeper.
He is waking up. In 29 innings for Delmarva in the Sally League, Erbe has a 35/5 K/BB ratio and a 2.48 ERA. He's allowed just 22 hits and one homer. His fastball can hit the mid-90s, and he has made strides refining his curveball and changeup. His command is obviously good. He also has a lanky, projectable build at 6-5, 180 pounds. And he is still just 18 years old.
So, let's see. Throws hard, check. Throws strikes, check. Doesn't give up home runs, check. Young, check. Great statistics, check. Good body, check. Sounds like a hot prospect to me. If he keeps pitching like this and stays healthy the rest of the year, you will see Erbe listed among the elite pitching prospects in the game by September. He won't be a sleeper for long.