In his first three starts with the TinCaps, the Padres twentieth rank prospect, Reggie Lawson, struggled to adjust to the competition, failing to make it past the fourth inning in every start while registering a miserable 9.89 ERA; yet, it’s been a vastly different story the past three games as he’s delivered a sparkling 2.65 ERA and struck out 21 batters over 17 innings of play.
And last night was perhaps his strongest start for Fort Wayne as he combined with the bullpen to toss a one hit, one run game against the South Bend Cubs. It didn’t initially look like it was going to be such an incredible start since Lawson walked the first Cub batter he faced. Fortunately, he caught a break not long after when A.J. Kennedy gunned down Andruw Monasterio trying to steal second.
Lawson responded by hammering the zone, catching the next batter watching. After that, he went on to retire the next 9 batters before the lone hit, a double by Jhonny Pereda, in the top of the fifth drove in Lawson’s second walk of the game.
Things then got a little dicey when Lawson tried to hold Pereda, who was looking aggressive with South Bend down by two, and was called for a balk, sending Pereda to third. Yet, Lawson continued to show poise, inducing a groundball to Zunica to end the inning.
He returned to cruise through the Cubs’ lineup in the sixth, and according to manager Anthony Contreras in a postgame interview with Chris Goff of the Journal Gazette, he would have kept him in the game longer, saying, “Fastball/curveball (combination) was working well…if it’s my choice, I probably send him back out there again (in the seventh), but we have to protect him. Pitch limits and all that stuff, we want him healthy for the whole year and the rest of his career.”
Despite the spotlight shining on him, Lawson continued to direct the attention to A.J. Kennedy, who made his twelth start at fort Wayne after opening the season in San Antonio. “I want to thank my team for playing defense behind me and especially A.J. Kennedy for calling a great game,” he told John Nolan “That’s my best offspeed pitch and me and A.J. always go through it…always trust your offspeed and I just follow him, when he puts down that two, I just put trust in it and throw it.”
Between getting a few games under his belt and a humble willingness to learn from A.J. Kennedy, Lawson is looking poised to continue flashing the talent that enticed AJ Preller and the front office to pay him almost a million dollars over slot value after taking him with the 71st pick in last year’s draft.