Right-handed pitcher Reggie Lawson has really started to mature and grow this 2018 season with help from a changeup taught to him by Trevor Hoffman. Read what this young man has to say about his mind-set, his teammates and the fact he is pitching so close to home.
The Diamond- Lake Elsinore, California
When the San Diego Padres selected Reggie Lawson in 2016 with the No. 71 overall pick, you got a sense that the team was overjoyed he was still available. Lawson is stocked with a lightning quick arm and is also blessed with terrific athletic ability. When drafted, he only added to a system that was ridiculously full of pitching depth.
Reggie grew up in Victorville California, which is pretty close to Lake Elsinore. He has had plenty of visitors for his home starts this 2018 season. With a record of 5-3 on the year, a 3.39 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, Lawson is off to a terrific start in a league that is widely considered a hitter’s league. I first asked Reggie about his family and the fact he is pitching so close to home in Lake Elsinore. “It’s a great time. That is who I do it for. I have passion for baseball, but pitching in front of your friends and family is just unbelievable. You just don’t get to do that all the time. It’s a blessing that I am here. I love pitching here.” He uses the extra factor of his family being in the stands in a positive manner. The growth he has displayed on the mound in 2018 has been impressive and he has done it close to home.
The minor league season is long and often it is difficult to stay motivated and focused on the task at hand. I asked Reggie about the grind and he relayed some interesting stuff to me. “You need to have a vision where you want to go. The season does get long, but at the end of the day (season) it is all about- where you want to be. If you get lazy, you aren’t going to accomplish anything. You need to keep that vision. At the end of the day, you know that the hard work is going to pay off.” He has embraced the preparation in between starts recently and that has surely assisted him in growing as a pitcher.
Last year, around this time of the year I spoke to Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi in Lake Elsinore. Both are now with the major league team. In a little over a year, both men have made huge strides in their game. I realize Reggie Lawson is a few years younger than that duo, but he has shown early signs of being able to develop rather quickly. I asked Reggie about the two current Padres pitchers and this is what he told me. “I’m really close to both of them. It’s nice to see that they were here last year and now they are in the big leagues doing what they are doing now. Seeing that, you get an idea of where you can go in this organization and that is a good thing.” The Padres have not been shy in promoting players who have shown the proper skills. Lawson is aware of that and it only motivates him to be better.
Reggie’s numbers are similar to last season, but he is having far more success in a Storm’ uniform. We talked a little bit about this year in Lake Elsinore opposed to last season in Fort Wayne. I asked him straight forward what has been then difference this season for him. “The changeup. I didn’t have a changeup last year. So when I was behind in the count last year, they knew a fastball was coming. Now this season, I have three pitches that I can throw for strikes.” Lawson is truly graduating from a thrower to a pitcher. He is learning the craft of pitching and the fact you need to change speeds against advanced hitters. Don’t get me wrong, Lawson is still capable of throwing baseballs by quality hitters, but he is maturing in the game of baseball.
We spoke about the change which was taught to him this year by Trevor Hoffman. There is probably no better player to learn that pitch from, as Hoffman had a devastating change. He went into depth a little bit about the grip and the pitch itself. “Trevor Hoffman showed me his grip. It is a circle change with a pinch (thumb and pointer finger). ” Reggie showed me the grip and we discussed it for a little bit. It is a palm ball of sort like Hoffman threw. I asked if Reggie had any issues getting adjusted to throwing the pitch. “No issues with mechanics. Just get it and throw it.” Obviously the more he uses the pitch, the comfort level will increase for the tall right hander. As for right now, he is getting swings and misses with the pitch, so that makes the team very happy.
I often ask prospects about their negatives. Things about their game that need to be improved upon. Lawson wasted no time in reacting to my question. “Definitely my walks. Just me getting a little fast (with mechanics) instead of staying in my rhythm. A little thing will happen on the field and I’ll get out of my rhythm and start speeding up. A domino effect starts to happen. I just have to stay in my rhythm and know who I am. I am not an aggressive pitcher. My motion is nice and easy and the ball gets on you. When I start to do too much is when start flying open and yanking the ball. I just need to stay in my game and not try to do things I’m not capable of doing.” For him to recognize that he needs to slow down when faced with adversity is very promising. The game can speed up on you at the higher levels and it sounds like Lawson is preparing himself for the future.
I also wanted Reggie to relay what his positives are on the baseball field. After a slight pause, this is what he told me. “I go out there and compete. I don’t shy away from any batters. I go out there and let my hard work take over. My fastball is one of my biggest weapons. I let it eat… If I feel I can throw a fastball by you, I will. I am not going to toy with you.” Wow. Just amazing. I particularly loved this quote as it shows his confidence in the abilities that he has. Do not expect for this young hurler to be content with doing bare minimum. He will try to out work everyone on the 25-man roster.
In closing, I had to ask Reggie about Chris Paddack who was recently promoted to Double-A, San Antonio after going 4-1 with a 2.24 ERA and an amazing 0.90 WHIP. “Paddack… I don’t even know where to start with that guy. He is a hard worker. It was pleasure seeing him go about his business day in and day out. He did it the right way. He never took a day off. He stuck to his routine. He didn’t want anyone working harder than him. He worked on his craft everyday. That’s my guy. I really like him.” It is clear that Paddack left a lasting impression on Reggie Lawson. The Padres’ farm system is deep and with players like Paddack and Lawson, the future is certainly bright.