Reggie Lawson Learns To Take It Slow
Reggie Lawson’s elbow started barking early last May after his fifth start at Double-A Amarillo. The righthander alerted the Padres a week later.
When a closer look revealed a UCL strain, Lawson was hoping to move quickly to Tommy John surgery and onto a rehab schedule.
Not so fast.
Both agent Scott Boras and his mother convinced him to try an alternate path: platelet-rich plasma therapy.
Instead of landing on the shelf for 14 to 18 months, Lawson returned to action at instructional league that fall, wowed in the Arizona Fall League (14 strikeouts in 11 innings of one-run ball) and earned an invitation to big league camp this spring.
"He ended the offseason knowing he was in a good spot from a health standing," general manager A.J. Preller told The San Diego Union-Tribune in February, "and he could get out advanced hitters . . .
"He can build on that (this season). He lost a lot of development time. I think he gained some of that back.”
Indeed, instead of building up a reconstructed elbow, Lawson is back to labbing a changeup that just may be the key to unlocking the potential that lured the Padres to sign him out of high school for an over-slot $1.9 million as a supplemental second-round pick in 2016.
At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Lawson boasts a mid-90s fastball, a loopy curveball and a changeup that previously was thrown too hard. The 22-year-old played with a grip passed along by senior adviser Trevor Hoffman in long toss and in side sessions. Its velocity is down to 86-88 mph.
"I love my changeup now,” Lawson said. "I could throw it whenever. I really have confidence in it now.”
Lawson has a 5.09 ERA through his first 226 pro innings, though he showed signs of turning a corner in the Texas League last year before he went down in May.
"That was frustrating because I felt like I was just starting to get my feet under me in Double-A,” Lawson said. "I’m healthy now and back to competing and doing what I love, so I can’t complain too much.”
— Ty France, the reigning Pacific Coast League MVP, is getting a look behind the plate this spring in hopes of adding versatility to his résumé. The 25-year-old will work predominantly at third base and first base, with some at second base and will look to get enough reps behind the plate to potentially be relied upon as a third/emergency catcher.