Cody Laweryson had a strong junior season for the University of Maine baseball team.
The right-handed pitcher from tiny Moscow in northwest Maine was chosen to the All-America East first team this past spring after posting a 5-5 record and a 2.85 earned run average. He also was a conference leader in batting average against (.224), walks and hits allowed per innings pitched (1.13), and hits allowed per nine innings (7.31).
That success is translating over to the professional ranks for the former Upper Kennebec Valley High School of Bingham standout.
Laweryson was chosen in the 14th round as the 419th overall pick by the Minnesota Twins in June’s amateur draft, and has racked up some impressive numbers for the Elizabethton (Tennessee) Twins in the rookie-advanced Appalachian League and Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels in the Class A Midwest League.
He has a 1.50 earned run average in 30 innings between the two teams and has allowed just 17 hits while striking out 35 batters and issuing just eight walks. Opponents are hitting just .165 against him and his walks, and hits allowed per innings pitched is 0.83.
He does not have a decision yet but has one save.
He has appeared in seven games for Elizabethton, including three starts, and had a 1.80 ERA before being called up to Cedar Rapids where he made one start and allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings.
In his past three appearances back at Elizabethton spanning 13 innings, the 20-year-old Laweryson has not allowed an earned run. He has given up seven hits with 14 strikeouts and two walks.
“It has been going real well,” the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Laweryson said. “Not having to go to class has made it a lot easier to focus on the game. I’m on the field all day trying to learn something new. It has made me a lot better.
“My slider has come a long way since I’ve been down here. It has been pretty consistent.”
Laweryson also has been working on his change-up and slow curveball to expand his arsenal.
“My fastball isn’t as overpowering as it was in high school and college,” he said. “Having off-speed pitches to mix in makes my fastball look that much better.”
Laweryson said he loves being a professional baseball player.
“This is something I dreamed about ever since I was a kid,” he said.
“You play a game every day instead of three games a weekend like you do in college. Getting to watch good pro players go to work every day is fun,” Laweryson said.
Laweryson said he has adapted to relieving, which he did during his first two seasons at UMaine before becoming the Black Bears’ No. 1 starter this spring.
“It’s a little different but they let you know [ahead of time] when you’re going into the game,” Laweryson said.
He now is part of a six-man pitching rotation at Elizabethton and will take the mound for Tuesday night’s game against the Pulaski (Virginia) Yankees.
Elizabethton’s final regular-season game is Aug. 28, with the league playoffs to go through the first week of September.
After that he intends to return to Maine and rest his arm while following a workout regimen the Twins will provide for him.
Laweryson concluded his three-year UMaine career with a 12-10 record, 3.09 earned run average, three saves and 171 strikeouts, and 46 walks and nine home runs allowed in 163⅓ innings.
UMaine head coach Nick Derba, a former catcher who reached Class AAA, said Laweryson’s success does not surprise him.
“His fastball command is way above average. It has a natural sink to it and he hides it well. He doesn’t leave the ball up [in the strike zone],” said Derba, who expects Laweryson’s velocity to increase as he gets stronger.
Derba anticipates Laweryson developing a quality repertoire of pitches now that he can concentrate solely on baseball.
“He could be something special,” Derba said.