Times Sports Writer
Wayne Lawrence wasn’t thrilled to hear that his son, Casey Lawrence, wasn’t going to be able to make their golf league Monday evening – until he heard the reason why.
“I told him I didn’t know if the Toronto Blue Jays would appreciate me breaching my contract right now,” Casey said.
A month after graduating from Albright University, the Delone Catholic High School standout received a minor league offer from the Blue Jays.
After not being selected in the Major League Baseball draft, Lawrence was a bit disappointed, but said he believed his hard work would eventually pay off.
Five days after the conclusion of the draft, it did.
“I kept my faith in God and he rewarded me,” Lawrence said. “I just didn’t think it would be this quick. They wanted to fly me out tonight. I threw a game for Brushtown yesterday, I turn around and in a day and a half, I’ll be throwing a pitch for a professional team. It’s crazy to think about, but I guess sometimes dreams do come true.”
Lawrence will attend a five-day minicamp in Clearwater, Fla. before being assigned to one of the Blue Jays minor league teams. By next week, Lawrence will be a member of the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in Clearwater or he will be moved to Auburn, NY to play for the Doubledays.
In four seasons at Albright, Lawrence made 33 starts and 41 pitching appearances, posting a 19-8 record while striking out 251 batters and walking only 31. He carried a 2.80 ERA and 1.09 WHIP during his career.
In his senior year, Lawrence had a 3-4 record with a 3.64 ERA. He pitched five complete games in nine starts while striking out 70 over 64.1 innings and walking only 10.
A noted control pitcher, Lawrence said he’s hit 92 miles per hour on the radar gun, though 88-90 is his comfort range. The righty uses both a two- and four-seam fastball, mixing in a curveball, change-up and a slider.
“My change-up is the pitch I can develop more,” Lawrence said. “My slider’s probably my best pitch – my strikeout pitch.”
The former Squire credited local coaches from all levels in helping his progression as a baseball player.
He was reminded of how helpful his parents, Wayne and Sharon Lawrence, were in his development.
“When I was two years old, I’d wake up at 6 a.m. and want to throw the ball,” Lawrence said. “My mom would go out and throw with me.”
Lawrence also mentioned Cork Livelsberger of Littlestown as an influence from his youth. In high school, Lawrence worked under the tutelage of his uncle, Delone pitching coach Dave Lawrence as well as head coaches Frank and Alan Felix.
Current Delone head coach Alan Felix said Lawrence is the fourth Squire to sign a professional contract, but the first of his era. John Dobson, Keith Bevenour and Ken Kotula signed in the 1980’s.
Felix remembers Lawrence graduating as a 5-foot-11, 150-pound kid. Now at 6-2, 170 pounds, he’s even more impressed with his former pupil’s work regiment.
“For the last four years it’s just been about being more physical,” Felix said. “It was just the physical tools catching up with the mental side of the game. He’s always commanded that side. He’s one of those guys that, by the third time through the lineup, he’ll know how to get you out.”
Felix also vouched for Lawrence as a player with high moral fiber.
“You want kids like Casey to get an opportunity,” Felix said. “He’s done everything the right way. He got his degree, he’s a good kid, and he’s not going to mess this up. He’s mature enough that he’ll make the most of the opportunity.”
Adam Michael can be reached at email@example.com