April 01, 2020
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Maine minor-league pitcher back at home trying to prepare for 2020 season

Courtesy of UMaine Athletics
Courtesy of UMaine Athletics
Cody Laweryson

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Cody Laweryson is working out on his own these days and throwing a baseball into a net at his family home in Moscow.

The former University of Maine ace right-hander, who played at Valley High School of Bingham, is preparing for his first full season in the minor leagues.

He had spent a couple of months working out at the Minnesota Twins minor-league facility in Fort Myers, Florida, but the organization sent everyone home more than a week ago as a precautionary measure to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was hoping to go to the [Valley] high school to work out but it is closed down until April 27,” Laweryson said. “It has been kind of tough to get my workouts in. All the gyms are closed.

“But I’ll find a way,” he added. “There’s a bunch of stuff I can do at home to keep myself in shape until the gyms open up.”

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He said the Twins provided him and the other minor leaguers with a bunch of workouts they can do at home.

“There are some core exercises and a bunch of stressing [drills] to keep us from getting tight,” he said. “And I’ll be on a stationary bike and doing stuff like that.”

Last season was a memorable one for Laweryson.

He was named a first-team All-America East selection thanks to his 5-5 record, 2.85 earned run average and 79 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. The junior then was drafted in the 14th round by the Twins (419th overall) and signed with them.

Laweryson was assigned to Elizabethton [Tennessee] of the Appalachian [Rookie] League and appeared in 10 games. He posted a 1-1 record, a 1.76 ERA and 59 strikeouts with just nine walks in 41 innings. He allowed only 25 hits.

Laweryson’s first professional win was a 1-0 decision over the Greenville Reds, when he struck out 15 batters in six innings and had a rare immaculate inning in which he struck out all three hitters on the minimum nine pitches.

“That was a fun inning for me. I had a lot going for me. All three pitches [fastball, slider, changeup] were working, especially my changeup,” Laweryson said.

He said between his time at UMaine and in the minors, he gained a lot of confidence.

“I just kept doing the same thing: throwing strikes and getting early outs,” he said.

His changeup developed over the summer to the point where it became his go-to pitch.

“I didn’t want to mess around with my fastball because I felt real comfortable with it. But I have been working on developing a really good breaking ball,” Laweryson said, referring to a curve that he began throwing at UMaine last spring.

He already had a slider.

“I want it to be more of a 12-to-6 curve, something that goes straight up and down,” he said. “I’ll have more velocity on my slider than my curve.”

Some pitching coaches prefer their pitchers to choose one or the other breaking pitch to reduce arm strain.

“I definitely feel I can throw both. I’ve never had any concerns with my elbow,” Laweryson said. “I just threw a fastball and changeup until I got to high school. I wasn’t snapping off breaking balls when I was 12 or 13 [like a lot of other kids].”

He said his father, Scott, suggested that he stay away from throwing a breaking pitch until high school.

His fastball is in the 90 mph but has good movement on it.

The 6-foot-3 Laweryson has gained 15 pounds through weight training and is now at 225 pounds.

“This is a real good weight for me,” said Laweryson, who expects it to help his endurance and strength.

The 21-year-old said he was fortunate to play with good teams in the minors last season.

“When you move up a level, everyone around you is a better player as well,” he said. “They can all make plays.”

Laweryson said he is likely to start the season in full-season Class A ball — when, or if, the season begins.

He said that once the coronavirus situation is under control to the point where players can return to Fort Myers, it likely will take them at least a month to get ready to play a regular-season game.

“We may even start the season without fans. It depends on the spread of the virus,” he said.

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