Kim Contreras

MadFriars Q&A: Padres pitching prospect Reggie Lawson

After looking like a sure first rounder last summer, Reggie Lawson suffered a lat injury early this spring and was incredibly limited through the spring baseball season. That gave the Padres a chance to swoop in and draft the big right-hander from the California high desert for an over-slot bonus with their competitive balance pick at the end of the second round. The team is very excited with the player they got.

Lawson, who turned 19 earlier this month, is already a physical specimen at 6'4" and a solid 210 pounds, with more room to grow. He was a key contributor to the Team USA gold medal-winning Under-18 club last year, and a regular on the showcase circuit, including at the Perfect Game All-American Classic played at Petco Park.

Like the Padres' other high school pitchers drafted in June, Lawson was held back from game action until the start of this month. But in very limited early action as a professional, the Victorville High School product has impressed. We caught up with him the night after a bullpen session in Peoria.

MadFriars: First and foremost, how are you feeling?

Reggie Lawson: I'm feeling pretty good. My last outing was better than my second. I've got my fastball command and velo is up, so I'm feeling good and enjoying the process out here.

Are you to the point that you don't have to think about your side at all now?

Reggie Lawson: I don't feel my side at all. I'm at 100 percent and everything feels amazing.

Obviously, this spring was not what you were expecting it to be. Did getting hurt the way you did change at all how you tried to go into the draft process?

Reggie Lawson: No, it was the same. My agent and I talked about it, and everything was the same. I knew my value and I'd seen that the Padres knew my value too, so nothing changed.

You got signed and got out here, but then it was a little while before you got into game action. What were you doing at that point, and were you working free and clear?

Reggie Lawson: Basically, I was just on an offseason workout. I was in the gym working out four times a week and then working our throwing program every day, and then slowly got into a bullpen.

Is the throwing program here different than what you've gotten used to over the last few years?

Reggie Lawson: Definitely, but I like it way better. My arm feels amazing, and it's helped with my velocity, so something's right.

How far have you stretched out when you're playing long toss?

Reggie Lawson: Here, I haven't gone further than 200, but normally I get out there.

Obviously, you've had a lot of time with the pitching coordinators and with your coach, Pete Zamora. What are the messages you've been hearing from those guys so far?

Reggie Lawson: Just keep attacking how I got about it in the bullpen, and translate it into the game. And then, they've said to speed up my tempo.

You said your velocity is up. Where did you sit in your last outing?

Reggie Lawson: Like 94 to 96.

In that debut outing, you broke out a big hammer curve to get a strikeout in the first inning. Is that where you like to be with that breaking ball?

Reggie Lawson: Yeah, definitely. In high school, it was only maybe 70-75, but now it's back up to 77 with more depth to it. It's definitely a better curveball than it used to be.

With your change-up, is that something you've always had feel for?

Reggie Lawson: I never used to throw a change. It was mostly fastball/curveball. But I started throwing it my junior year .That was all we threw down here at first on the throwing program. We weren't able to throw the curveball, we were just fastball/change. So it's better. It's got some more movement on it now.

Anything specific Mark Prior gave you to work on this year?

Reggie Lawson: Yeah. Just stay in the same position out of the windup and the stretch with my front foot.

How does the experience you've had with Team USA and on the showcase circuit impact how you've been able to transition to the professional game?

Reggie Lawson: Probably being used to the talent level. And from Team USA, the mental game. That's all they talked about - when things hit the fan and when things are going good. Everybody I was surrounded by was great, and that definitely helped me.

With you and Mason Thompson coming in together, had you two worked together in the past on the circuit?

Reggie Lawson: I only faced him one time, in Georgia going into our junior year.

With him and Dan Dallas and the whole group out here, there's obviously a lot of young talent out here. What does that competitive camaraderie do for you?

Reggie Lawson: It's fun. It makes you want to do better yourself. You know you don't want to cheat yourself when you see them busting their butts all the time, and you want to do the same and even better.

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