Lawrence a cool Cat, Scout ranks Jays prospect

 * RHP Casey Lawrence of the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats is a grad of tiny Albright College, an NCAA Division III school. ....  2014 Canadians in the Minors 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2015 Canadian draft list


Previous weeks: De Jong II, Scout ranks Jays prospects Week III ... Copeland picks up Janssen, Scout ranks Jays prospects Week II .... Pompey burning bases, Scout ranks Jays prospects Week I .... Matt Boyd.


By Bob Elliott

Casey Lawrence had pitched into the eighth inning before allowing a second run on Tuesday night in New Britain, Conn.

And now the double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats right-hander was on the phone.

Pretty good outing?

“It has been eating at me for the past half hour,” said Lawrence, who admitted it might bother him until he next steps on to the mound.

With the score 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth against the New Britain Rock Cats, he fanned the No. 8 hitter Kyle Knudson looking, then struck out Mike Kvasnicka swinging and got to 0-2 on leadoff man Tony Thomas

“I go strikeout, strikeout and am ahead 0-2,” said the 26-year-old Lawrence. “So, I’m feeling good, knowing all I have to do is throw a slider in the dirt and I’ve got him struck out.

“I didn’t execute, he hit it down the line for a double.”

Aderlin Mejia singled up the middle, Thomas scored and Lawrence’s work night-- 7.2 innings, the longest outing by a New Hampshire starter this season--was done.

Some clubs have small fines for allowing hits on 0-2 pitches. Darold Knowles, pitching coach at class-A Dunedin, has been known to fine his pitches one noodle golf ball for issuing a leadoff walk.

Lawrence’s loss levelled his record (1-1) and saw his ERA climb from 1.71 to 1.93 in five games. He’s walked three and struck out 17 in 23.1 innings.

The Tuesday outing was only his second start of the season as he followed Aaron Sanchez into two games.

“He comes out and pounds the zone hard from early on, his stuff is amazing,” said Lawrence of Sanchez. “He is a top calibre talent. His fastball is 94-95 mph. He has a power sinker. It’s funny how bad he makes some guys look trying to hit against him.”

Sanchez, 21, is 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in five starts. He has walked 13 and fanned 21 in 23.2 innings, after Wednesday’s 7-5 win over New Britain.

Lawrence and Sanchez are an odd combination pitching back-to-back. Lawrence went undrafted as a senior sign in 2010 from tiny Albright College, an NCAA Division III school (enrolment 2,400) in Reading, Pa. Jays scout Bobby Gandolfo signed him after the 2010 draft.

Sanchez was selected 34th overall in North America, the same year after Bryce Harper went first overall.

A year ago, Lawrence was 4-7 with a 4.53 ERA in 19 games, making 18 starts at Dunedin (15), New Hampshire (two) and triple-A Buffalo (one). He walked 20 and struck out 63 in 103.1 innings.

“I didn’t trust my pitches ... (Pitching coach) Jim Czajkowski is big on commiting to every pitch this year. I try to take pride in that. The goal is not to let one bad pitch affect your next. You don’t want to show up teammates as a pitcher. You don’t want to compound things,”

Lawrence says he can take the home runs, doubles and hard hit balls.

“The thing that irks me is walking a guy and walking the next guy on four pitches,” said Lawrence, who might be a hard marker. “It’s only happened once, but that wore on me. One walk I can take, but the next guy, too?”

Sanchez was chosen from Barstow High in Calif., by then scouting director Andrew Tinnish and given a $775,000 signing bonus.

The Jays had four picks in the first 41 in 2010: Deck McGuire from Georgia Tech, 11th overall was given $2 million, Sanchez, compensation for the loss of free agent Marco Scutaro, was 34th; Noah Syndergaard of Mansfield, Tex., $600,000, 38th for failing to sign James Paxton and Asher Wojciechowski 41st for the loss of Rod Barajas

In his fourth year at double- A McGuire is 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA, walking three and striking out 15 in 21 innings.