University of Maine ace Cody Laweryson knew he had a “pretty good chance” to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
“But there were a lot of nerves,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think. It was crazy.”
Those nerves went away when the Moscow native and Valley High of Bingham multisport star learned he was picked in the 14th round by the Minnesota Twins.
He was the 419th overall pick. Laweryson’s teammate, senior pitcher Nick Silva, was chosen in the 40th round by the Chicago White Sox. He was the 1,190th pick.
Laweryson said he will sign with the Twins and is heading to the Twins’ rookie camp in Florida on Sunday. He will begin the season with the Elizabethton (Tennessee) Twins in the Appalachian League, which is a short-season Class A rookie league. Elizabethton opens its season June 18.
Laweryson said when he found out he had been picked by the Twins it was a “huge relief” to him and his family.
“It totally worked out,” Laweryson said.
“I didn’t expect to get picked that early in the draft,” said Laweryson, who feels he is going to a “very good organization.
“They develop their players very well,” Laweryson said.
“His fastball command is what got him drafted so high,” UMaine head coach Nick Derba said. “It was excellent. He put it where he wanted to.”
Laweryson showed improvement every season capped by this year’s first team All-America East honor.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Laweryson was 5-5 with a 2.85 earned run average. He allowed 59 hits in 72 ⅔ innings with 79 strikeouts and 23 walks. He led the league in batting average against (.224), WHIP (walks and hits allowed per innings pitched) at 1.13 and hits allowed per nine innings (7.31). He was second in ERA and strikeouts, and had a career-high 12 strikeouts in a 5-0 loss to UMass Lowell in the America East tourney. He was chosen to the all-tourney team.
He allowed two or fewer earned runs in 11 of his 14 starts.
He was primarily a reliever in his first two seasons, going 3-3 with two saves and a 3.42 ERA in 2018 and 4-2 his freshman year with a 3.08 ERA and a save. Thirty-six of his 41 appearances over his first two seasons came in relief.
He concluded his career with a 12-10 record, 3 saves, a 3.09 ERA and 171 strikeouts with just 46 walks over 163 ⅓ innings. Laweryson allowed only nine homers in his career.
Laweryson said when he came to UMaine he hoped it would lead to a professional baseball career.
“But I didn’t expect it. Maine was my only Division I [scholarship] offer. It was surreal how it all [turned out],” Laweryson said. “I made big jumps every year, and making those strides was huge.”
The development of his slider and change-up were instrumental in his success this season.
“My secondary pitches were so much better this year than they had been my first two years,“ Laweryson said. “You can’t rely on just a high-80s, low-90s [miles-per-hour] fastball. My slider and change-up made by fastball that much [more effective].”
He said he would not be where he is without his three years at UMaine.
“It was huge. I wouldn’t be in this position without the coaching staff, especially coach Derba, and how well he worked with the pitchers. My teammates also helped me out,” Laweryson said.
In looking ahead to his pro career, Laweryson said he can’t be “complacent.”
“I need to keep learning and getting better every day,” he said. “I’ve got to take advantage of the off-season to get stronger, eat well and work on some off-speed pitches.”
Laweryson said he was elated to hear that Silva had also been picked.
“That’s awesome. I’m so happy for him. I saw the work he put in during my three years at Maine. And he’s a great kid,” Laweryson said.
Silva, the 6-3, 210-pound righthander from Miami, had an up-and-down senior year.
He allowed one run or less in three starts including a seven-inning no-hitter in a nonconference win over UMass, but he allowed four or more earned runs in five starts.
Silva, the nephew of former Yankee star Alex Rodriguez and a three-time America East Pitcher of the Week, was 4-6 with a 5.45 ERA. Silva allowed 67 hits in 72⅔ innings with 59 strikeouts and 36 walks. Opponents hit .250 against him.
But Silva proved himself to be a quality post-season performer in recent years.
In his past three America East Tournament starts, Silva was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA. He struck out 19 and walked 10 over 20 ⅔ innings of tournament duty.
Derba said Silva has a good fastball and his change-up is a “plus pitch.” Silva also has a curveball.
“For him, his ability has never been an issue. It’s a matter of consistency. He has to be able to [get the job done] on a day-in, day-out basis,” Derba said.
“The Twins and White Sox are getting two quality guys. Both have the ability to pitch for a long time at the pro level. They have to continue to command their fastballs and polish their secondary pitches. Their velocity will get better as they pitch more,” Derba said.