Breakout Summer Lifts Erbe to Top of the Class

Brandon Erbe was your normal high school pitcher who hopes to hear his name at least on Day 2 of the Major League Baseball Draft, then attend the college of his choice and play baseball for another four years. This all was before the 2003 season began.

Now, Brandon Erbe has not only committed to one of the prestigious baseball programs in the country in Miami University, however, he also has labeled himself as a top pitching prospect in the 2005 draft class.

During his freshman and sophomore year of high school Erbe was throwing his fastball around the 84-85 range and would occasionally hit 87 and touch 88 on the gun. However, after working hard during the winter of his junior year, he became a powerhouse arm during his junior year, having increased his velocity on his fastball by seven-eight miles.

"I really took it upon myself over the winter to improve" said Erbe. "I had a few insights from a couple of coaches and former players on basic workout routines, but after that, it was basically working by myself."

Erbe went into a conditioning program getting himself in shape by doing a variety of running exercises, and also spent time long tossing and working out his arm to get it in the shape he wanted.

"I basically worked and worked my arm with different exercises, just to get it to the point it is now, were I can throw consistently in the low to mid 90's.

Erbe, who also plays the left side of the infield, went 5-3 in his breakout junior season with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 84 batters for McDonogh High School.

He also spent the summer of 2003 and 2004 pitching for the Maryland Orioles. In 2003 he went 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA while saving 4 games. In 44.1 innings pitched, he allowed 29 hits, and struck out 58 batters. This past summer, Erbe went 2-1 with a 0.61 ERA and 2 saves. He allowed just 14 hits and 6 walks in 23 innings while striking out 33 batters.

"My junior year was my breakout year in high school" Erbe told "I made First Team All-City, First Team All-MIA, and Second Team All-Metro."

Overall, Erbe helped his team make the playoffs, something that had not been accomplished for five years prior.

"It was good to see our fans come back and people building up faith in our baseball program again" Erbe said.

When Miami University came knocking on Erbe's door trying to recruit him, it was real hard to turn them down. Erbe was also strongly considering another baseball powerhouse in LSU, and also Georgia Tech,

"One of the reasons I decided on Miami was because of the fact that they moved to the ACC now, and with my family living on the east coach, it is a lot more accessible for them to come see my games. Miami also made me feel real comfortable. I loved the coaches, the players, and everybody was a first class act in making me feel welcomed."

"Once I got down there I knew I would end up choosing Miami. I just felt it in my heart that it was the best place for me."

Erbe, who compares himself to Mark Prior, throws a changeup, slider and a curveball to go along with his fastball. His fastball-changeup combination makes it extremely hard for opposing hitters to be successful at the plate, and his improvement on his slider could give him three plus pitches heading into the 2005 Draft.

Erbe is feeling the draft coming up with several major league clubs visiting him at his house, however, he is not letting the attention bother him.

"As of right now, I really don't know where I fall in terms of the draft. I read all the articles and all, but right now I am just trying to stay healthy. The way I look at it is if I stay healthy and prepare myself, everything else will work out."

As Erbe maintains his focus on working out his arm and staying healthy for his senior year of high school, he looks back and recognizes the dedication his parents put in for him to be able to succeed in baseball.

"They would have to be the two biggest influences in my baseball career so far. They have laid down so much money, and put in a tremendous effort, taking off from work, and sacrificing their hours, so I can be in the position that I can prove myself, and make a name for myself.

Besides watching batters quickly return to the on deck circle, Erbe enjoys playing his guitar and keeping up on his school work. Erbe who maintains a 3.5 GPA is concerned more about his academics than baseball at this point.

"I look at it from the viewpoint that right now my academics will carry me further than baseball will. I figure if I work hard and put my academics first, it will just make me a stronger person in the long run. I try to take my academics as serious as possible, because I just don't know whether baseball will be here tomorrow, however with a solid education you will always have a future."

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