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Interview with Starting Pitcher, Casey Lawrence

Interview with Starting Pitcher, Casey Lawrence

August 9, 2011

Casey Lawrence was an undrafted free agent signing of the Blue Jays out of a NCAA Division III school, Albright College in Pennsylvania. He went undrafted in 2009 and 2010 then Jays scout Bobby Gandolfo signed him a week after the draft as a free agent, according to Bob Elliot. He went 15-4 for Albright striking out 181 over 192.1 career innings. He finished with a 2.53 ERA and only 21 walks during his time with Albright. He has enjoyed a breakout season this year playing mainly in A ball with Lansing but had a cup of coffee with Dunedin. In his last 10 games (All starts) he is 6-3 with a 2.80 ERA, 1 complete game, 61 innings pitched with 46 strikeouts compared to 11 walks. Batters were hitting a miniscule .236 during this 10 game span. I was fortunate enough to chat with him about his baseball career so far.

As a non-drafted free agent, what was your experience like and how you come about signing with the Blue Jays?

Casey Lawrence: Being a non-drafted free agent, my experience was a little unsettling. For a few days I was stuck in a limbo between starting to look for a real job and continuing my journey to play professional baseball. I began asking myself, after the draft had came and went without a phone call, “What do I do now?” Luckily, a few days after the draft and one day after I had returned from vacation in Florida, I received the phone call and opportunity I had been waiting my whole life for.  The following day I was on a plane back to Florida for mini-camp.

Who would you give credit to the most for getting you to this point in your career?

Casey Lawrence: I give the most credit to all the people that have doubted that I could play at the professional level and continue to do so. Also to my parents, family, friends, former teammates and coaches to getting me to this point in my career because without each and every one I have come across throughout my life I wouldn’t be the person I would be today. And I thank God everyday for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love.

Who are your greatest influences in the game of baseball?

Casey Lawrence: My greatest influences in baseball are all 30 major league teams. Every team, including Toronto, passed on me about 50 times during the 2010 draft. I will always have that in the back of my mind whenever I take the mound.

What has been your proudest moment of your baseball career?

Casey Lawrence: I’ve had a few moments in my baseball career that I’m very proud of. First, has got to be the feeling I had when I received and signed my contract with the Blue Jays. It was a pretty emotional day to say the least. Second, was being named to the New York-Penn League All Star Game.

What kind of pitcher would you best describe yourself as?

Casey Lawrence: I would best describe myself as a control pitcher. I know I’m not going out on the mound and lighting up the radar gun. When I’m at my best I’m keeping the ball down and throwing a lot of strikes on the corners.

What do you feature in your repertoire?

Casey Lawrence: I feature a 2-seam fastball, 4-seam fastball, change-up, slider, and curveball.

Could you describe what you do to prepare for a start? What does your days leading up to a start look like?

Casey Lawrence: Preparing for a start begins as soon as my last start is over. Our Strength and Conditioning coaches have very detailed workouts each day designed to prepare us for our next start. 4 days before a start we have a long run, roughly 20 mins, followed by a heavy lower body workout. 3 days before consists of a side workout in the pen with our pitching coach, a few sprints, and an upper body workout. 2 days before we have 8 – 3/4 pole runs and a light lower lift. The last day before a start only includes 10 sprints.

You have thrown to Carlos Perez a lot in previous levels, what does his presence on the team mean to you personally? Is it beneficial to you to have that familiarity with your battery mate?

Casey Lawrence: Carlos Perez is one of the top young prospects in the organization with a lot of upside and really fun to watch as well as play with. C.P. and I have worked together quite a lot and he does a great job behind the plate calling the game. He makes plays defensively that you’re not going to see many other catchers be able to make. Having a relationship with your battery mate is crucial for the success of the pitcher and more importantly the team. As a pitcher, if you are second guessing the pitch you are about to throw you’re not committing yourself 100% to that pitch resulting, more times than not, in a poorly executed pitch.

What is it like to have a former major league catcher as your manager in Mike Redmond?

Casey Lawrence: Mike Redmond has been as good as a manager as anyone could ask for. His knowledge and understanding of the game is uncanny. Just being able to come to the park everyday and learn from someone like Red, who has played at the highest level for so many years, is a pure joy for every player on our club.

In terms of developing as a player, what are your goals for the rest of this season and potentially further on? What kinds of improvements might you want to make?

Casey Lawrence: As far as developing as a player, there are always things to work to improve whether it’s physically or mentally. My goals for the rest of this season are pretty simple and that’s to continue to improve everyday and finish my first full season as strong as I can. Personally, I’ve been working with our pitching coach, Vince Horsman, to improve my slider to the point where it’s a strikeout pitch. Another focus with be to continue to improve my change-up.

If you could pick one player that you model yourself after, who would it be?

Casey Lawrence: I have 2 players that I model my myself after: Roy Halladay and Derek Jeter. These 2 are true professionals and both rooted in values of hard work, determination, humility, leadership and motivation.

As we all know, baseball players are superstitious, do you have any superstitions?

Casey Lawrence: I do have some superstitions. 1) I wear the same clothes (shirt, undershirt, jeans, socks, shoes) for every start that I make. 2) I listen to the same playlist on my ipod starting exactly 1 hour and 45 mins prior to the start of the game. 3) I always hop over the line when going to and coming from the pitcher’s mound. 4) For the warm-up pitches given in between innings, I always throw (in this order) 2: 4-seam fastballs, 2: 2-seam fastballs, 2 change-ups, and 1 slider. 5) I always put my right sock/shoe on before my left.

I would like to thank Casey for his time and effort and would like to wish him well in the remainder of the season.