Elizabethton Twins pitcher Cody Laweryson delivers a pitch during a 2019 game. The Twins, a rookie-level farm team of the Minnesota Twins, play in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Contributed photo/Elizabethton Twins

Cody Laweryson is in Fort Myers, Florida, at the Minnesota Twins training facility, making up for lost time.

“It kind of set everybody back, in a developmental way,” Laweryson said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “At the same time, I had plenty of time to work on my craft and not worry about facing hitters.”

“It” is the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Laweryson, a Valley High School graduate, was at the Twins’ minor league camp, working and waiting to see where the club would send him to start the season. Maybe back to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Single A level team for which Laweryson pitched one game in 2019 after spending most of the season in Elizabethton, Tennessee in Rookie ball. Maybe he’d stay right there in Fort Myers and pitch for the Advanced A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.

Then “it” struck, and the Twins and every Major League Baseball club sent everybody home. For Laweryson, that meant Moscow, Maine, as un-Fort Myers place as any minor league ballplayer could have gone to wait out a pandemic. The snow is still deep in Moscow in March. Laweryson was able to throw into a net set up in his father’s garage, or drive a couple hours each way to Orono to pitch indoors at the University of Maine.

When the summer came, Laweryson, who turned 21 on Jan. 1,  threw on the mound at Valley High School. It was 20 to 30 pitches a session, not the 50 to 70 Laweryson would likely throw in a start. If there’s a silver lining in this lost season, it’s that Laweryson kept his arm fresh. Already a low mileage pitcher from growing up in Maine, where the baseball season is much shorter than the season played by guys who grew up in the west or south, Laweryson put less stress on his arm this summer.

“It’s been paying off. I feel like my arm strength is really high,” Laweryson said.

After the Twins selected him in the 14th round of the draft, Laweryson pitched in 11 games in 2019, striking out 63 hitters and walking 10 in 46 innings, all with a low 1.57 ERA. A good debut, and Laweryson was eager to use it as a springboard into the next phase of his career. When he arrived at training camp last January, Laweryson had no idea the next phase of his career would include a phase for the reopening of the Twins facility.

Laweryson is wrapping up a five-week instructional camp in Fort Myers. It was a chance to pitch in front of coaches, to live batters. He’s throwing his fastball well, in the low 90s and with location. What Laweryson needs to do is work on his secondary pitches. He’s working on his breaking ball and changeup. Without those, his career will stall.

“You’ve got to have three good pitches to get outs,” Laweryson said.

Laweryson will come home to Maine next week. Now, the offseason will start to look and feel normal. He’ll take a month off from throwing, and get ready to head back to training camp in January. Right now, the plan is for a normal minor league season next year in Cedar Rapids or Fort Myers or somewhere.

“We’re hoping everything is back to normal for next season,” Laweryson said.

A pitcher at Laweryson’s stage of his career can make up for one lost season. “It” doesn’t care about Laweryson’s baseball career trajectory.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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