Lauer nabs first career win for Dust Devils

Padres' No. 9 prospect produces fifth scoreless start in six outings

Eric Lauer would lead the Northwest League with a 1.29 ERA if he had enough innings to qualify. (Jared Ravich/MiLB.com)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | August 22, 2016 1:26 AM

In a year filled with accolades, Eric Lauer's victory on Sunday night might top them all. 

The Padres' No. 9 prospect allowed two hits and a walk while striking out three over five scoreless innings to notch his first professional win as Class A Short Season Tri-City defeated Salem-Keizer, 5-3, at Gesa Stadium.

Lauer (1-0) didn't allow a run for the fifth time in six Northwest League starts. The 25th overall pick in this year's Draft has a 1.29 ERA and has yielded 15 hits and six walks to go with 25 strikeouts in 21 innings with the Dust Devils. 

"Ecstatic," said the Ohio native, who had a 6.75 ERA in two starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League before his promotion. "I'm pumped to get one under my belt, finally. I was also pretty happy that I got to go five innings, too. I'm just excited." 

The 21-year-old left-hander pitched a flawless first and allowed a single to Giants fifth-round pick Ryan Howard in the second. He picked off Chase Compton after walking him with one out in the third, then gave up a single to Manuel Gerardo, who stole second, before Ashford Fulmer grounded out to second.

Lauer retired the final six batters he faced and threw 34 of 49 pitches for strikes in the longest outing of his brief pro career before turning things over to Adrian De Horta. 

"For the most part, I'm working on the smaller pieces of my game," the southpaw said. "I'm trying to use my changeup a lot more and have that be a better pitch for me. I'm looking to fill up the zone, get them to swing and miss or have them hit the ball to the guys behind me." 

Lauer was named 2016 Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year after leading all NCAA Division I hurlers with a 0.69 ERA for Kent State. Having pitched in the Cape Cod League in previous years, he knows what a grueling schedule is all about. 

"Playing at a higher level is a little more mentally taxing," Lauer said. "Physically, you do more, too, but it's all to help you. I'd say the mental part is harder than I've ever had to deal with before, but it's something new you get used to and try to run with." 

He also said he knows the responsibilities he has to his team and organization as a first-round pick but doesn't necessarily feel any added pressure.

"I don't know if there's extra pressure," Lauer said. "Personally, I want to show them they made the right choice taking me that early. But when you get past that, you realize you're playing the same game you've been playing for years and you get over it and stop putting extra pressure on yourself."

De Horta allowed two runs on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts in three innings. Jesse Scholtens recorded his third save, despite giving up a run on three hits with one strikeout in the ninth. 

Nate Easley and Hudson Potts, who was selected one pick before Lauer, both went 2-for-4 with an RBI as the Dust Devils snapped a four-game losing streak.

Salem-Keizer starter Victor Concepcion (4-6) surrendered four runs on seven hits and a walk with a season-high seven strikeouts in five innings. Howard went 3-for-4 and Julio Pena hit his first homer for the Volcanoes.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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