Local pitcher Haden Erbe looking to prove himself
When pitchers suffer arm injuries, they can often set them back or even end their career.
For Lafayette native Haden Erbe, he has continued to peruse baseball at a high level despite suffering multiple arm injuries. It has been a bumpy road for Erbe the past few seasons because of these injuries, but he has continued to pursue his dream as a pitcher.
“As I got better and did better, I wanted to get better as I got to higher levels and played kids who were older,” Erbe said. “Just getting better at baseball and doing better has driven me to keep going. I love the training part of it.”
Erbe, who is transferring to Seminole State College in Florida after two years at UL, began pitching at a young age.
“When I was young, I just always had fun striking people out,” Erbe said. “I’ve always hated hitting ever since I was 8 years old, it was just a really frustrating thing.”
Erbe attended Lafayette High for his first two years of high school, but ended up transferring to Crowley High for his junior and senior year.
“It was extremely different,” Erbe said on his high school transfer. “(I) went from the gifted program at Lafayette High to an easier school at Crowley High. I had finished a lot of my classes already, and had to slow down the course. It was definitely a culture shock.”
Erbe pitched well for his summer league team after his junior year and received offers from almost every school in Louisiana. He signed with UL before his senior season, which was lost due to injury.
“I didn’t have any offers after my junior year of high school, but that summer we went and made some mechanical fixes with my summer ball team," he recalled. "In 15 minutes, I began throwing 89-92 (mph) from 86-88 (mph). Recruiting went crazy. I had offers from every school in the state except for LSU. I made my decision that September, and it was either UL or Louisiana Tech, and I decided to go UL.”
Erbe said he chose UL because loved the coaching staff, the fact that it was close to home, and the winning environment.
"It was pretty easy coming off back-to-back super-regionals," Erbe said. "They just always develop pitchers really well, and they’ve always done really well.”
Erbe pitched six innings as a freshman at UL, flashing hard-throwing strikeout stuff, but struggled with command. He suffered another injury that season and was red-shirted his sophomore year.
Erbe will be facing a transition period this year after living in the Acadiana area his entire life.
“Just decided to part ways with UL in early to mid-June,” Erbe said. “I then started the recruiting process with junior colleges because I have a year left, and I made some visits in Florida and committed there (Seminole State). They (UL) invested two years of their time in me, and I only threw six innings. It just made sense and was a good change for both of us.
“I needed innings, and they needed innings to be thrown,” Erbe said. “It was just better to part ways (with UL). I needed to go pitch and not sit in the back of a bullpen.”
Erbe decided to pitch for the Acadiana Cane Cutters this summer because it was close to home, and he's pitched well with 43 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. He met his goals with the team even though he won’t be pitching anymore the rest of the summer as he rests up for next season.
“I needed to work at the same time as I played, and it was easier to get a job here and live at home,” Erbe said. “(I'm) just fortunate to get some innings and have some time on the mound.
"My first goal was to lead the league in strikeouts, and I did that for the first half. I also wanted to strikeout twice as many batters as I walked, and I also did that. And I wanted to be on the all-star team, and I did that as well. Just trying to slow it down because I hadn’t thrown that much in three or four years, so I’m actually taking a little break right now.”
Despite his injuries, Erbe still throws heat, touching 95 mph on the radar gun with the Cutters this summer.
“My best pitch has got to be my fastball,” Erbe said. “I throw a really good curveball, too, but I get a lot of swing and misses with my fastball. It has a high spin rate which means it looks a little bit different to hitters so they swing under it a lot of times, and I throw pretty hard, so it takes them a second to adjust, and my curveball isn’t as effective unless I’m throwing my fastball.”
Erbe said the highlight of his baseball career so far was pitching in the Little League World Series back in 2011 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“(It was) by far the greatest baseball achievement and memory that I’ll ever have probably," Erbe said, "unless I win a world series at one of these last two levels (college and pro).”
It will be interesting to see how Erbe’s career progresses. Although he’s had a significant injury history for someone his age, he still has the velocity that made him such an appealing recruit. If he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit for this hard-throwing right-hander from Lafayette.
If he makes it to the majors, he said he would love to pitch for any team.
“I love baseball through and through; I’ve never had a team,” Erbe said. “My best friend kind of rags me for it because I can watch any team, any game. I just love baseball, it would not matter to me what team.”