Yesterday, Kent State University left-hander Eric Lauer threw a no-hitter, leading the Golden Flashes to a 14-0 stomping of the Bowling Green Falcons. Lauer struck out 13 and didn't walk anyone; the only Bowling Green baserunner got on board due to an error, robbing Lauer of a perfect game.
That's okay: the victory clinched the Mid-American Conference title for Kent State, and it was certainly good on a personal level for Lauer: he is a top draft prospect for 2016, so this was great timing for him to have a game like that, with scouting offices and cross-checkers paying close attention.
Coming out of high school in Grafton, Ohio, Lauer was drafted in the 17th round in 2013 by the Toronto Blue Jays but (obviously) did not sign. He took over a Kent State rotation spot as a freshman and has experienced steady success: 3.26 ERA, 64/36 K/BB in 80 innings in 2014, followed by an improved 1.98 ERA with a 103/26 K/BB in 86 innings in 2015. He went to the Cape Cod League last summer and mowed down wooden bats, posting a 2.04 ERA with a 50/18 K/BB in 40 innings.
As good as all that was, Lauer has been even better in 2016: through 13 starts and 89 innings he has a ridiculous 0.81 ERA with a 109/25 K/BB, allowing a mere 44 hits. He is holding hitters to a .145 average.
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.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Lauer because he pitches for Kent State and not one of the baseball power schools. As a prospect in Ohio in 2013 he was seen as one of the best cold-weather sleeper arms in the prep class by many observers, so he has a long track record of success, and his performance last summer on the Cape should silence any doubters.
Lauer projects as a number three starter. He is generally seen as a compensation round pick but it would not be a surprise for him to sneak into the first round, especially after what he did last night.