LAKELAND, Fla. -- Casey Lawrence likely won't lend any big league assistance to the Blue Jays' pitching staff until later in the season. But the fact that he will have an opportunity to do so is quite a feat itself.The 29-year-old righty continued his impressive Spring Training on Friday afternoon
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Casey Lawrence likely won't lend any big league assistance to the Blue Jays' pitching staff until later in the season. But the fact that he will have an opportunity to do so is quite a feat itself.
The 29-year-old righty continued his impressive Spring Training on Friday afternoon in Toronto's injury-shortened 6-2 victory over the Tigers at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium, yielding two hits with four strikeouts and two walks in three scoreless innings of work.
For Lawrence, who split last season between Triple-A Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire and has yet to advance past the Minors in seven professional seasons, it was another solid outing. Over three prior appearances, he allowed just one run while striking out two and walking two.
Not bad for a guy who has been a consummate underdog in the organization since originally signing as an undrafted free agent in 2010.
"He's really got our attention," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "The guys in the organization raved about him last year. He picked up some velocity. He really turned into a new guy … and we're counting on him some time this year -- whenever that might be."
That uptick in velocity, thanks to an adjustment in Lawrence's delivery, is what helped turn the attention to him last year, as his fastball now touches the mid 90s. Since then, he has gone from darn near forgotten to positioning himself as a key future option as pitching depth.
"It was just a lot of hard work, bouncing ideas off of different pitching coaches ... and just kind of changing my mechanics just a little bit," Lawrence said. "I struggled at first. I was kind of like, 'Do I want to try this? Do I not?' But I bought into it, and now I'm starting to reap some of the rewards from it."
Lawrence said he has not sought much advice around the clubhouse in his first taste of big league Spring Training, careful not to pester the veterans. Instead, he has watched teammates such as J.A. Happ and Francisco Liriano from afar to see how they go about their business.
"As a kid, you wake up, you're dreaming about playing in the big leagues," he said. "That's something that I'm working toward and trying to get better every single day. And being on this side in big league camp this year for the first time, it's been nice just to watch them go about their routines. … Sometimes the best thing is to just watch."
Gibbons hopes he will be watching Lawrence's No. 59 in the Majors soon.
"He's always been able to put the ball where he wants it, but then he just picked up a couple miles an hour in velocity and it did wonders for him," Gibbons said.
"He's a tremendous competitor -- a tremendous kid. Those are the kind of guys you root for."
Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com.