Reggie Lawson in action earlier this season. [Photo by John Moore/Amarillo Sod Poodles]

AMARILLO, Texas — On an uncharacteristically cold mid-50 degree spring night in the Texas Panhandle, right-hander Reggie Lawson pitched one of the best games of his professional career as he went six and a third innings to help give the Amarillo Sod Poodles a 1-0 victory, their first shutout in team history.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pound Lawson – he looks taller and bigger – has always been among the most talented Padres’ pitching prospects with a fastball that can consistently sit in the mid-90s to go along with good, but inconsistent secondary pitches.  

Tonight that was not the case.

“It’s all mental,” said a happy Lawson, 21, after the game.  “I changed my approach three starts ago since the Corpus game.  It’s just my intent for the whole game, staying in the moment pitch by pitch and not worrying about what had just happened or what could.

“It is definitely a process to be mentally ready for the game.”

He threw 91 pitches, 58 for strikes and gave up a lone double. A big reason for his success was his ability to mix in quality secondary pitches with his elite fastball.

“Mainly it’s just repeating my delivery to get more consistent and throwing more changeups.  For this start, I wanted to throw a changeup for every at-bat and it worked.”

While Lawson’s new-found love of his changeup is paying dividends, he may also have had a bit of a push.

A big reason for Lawson’s recent improvement is an improvement in his pitch mix. [Photo by John Moore/Amarillo Sod Poodles]

“He was focused and maybe a little motivated,” laughed Sod Poodles manager Phillip Wellman after the game.  “For a young man who has not always been the biggest fan of throwing his changeup, we let him know before the game that we wanted to see more changeups or the next move was going to be taking some money from him.

“Reggie threw at least 20 of them, so he likes his money which is good.”

The Sod Poodles, and the game’s, only run came in the first inning was when the Springfield shortstop made a throwing error on catcher Luis Torrens grounder which scored right fielder Edward Olivares.

And that was it.

After Lawson departed, Amarillo got a pair of strong innings from Kyle McGrath and Dauris Valdez before David Bednar came in to get one of the more interesting saves.

He walked the first batter, gave up a broken-bat single to the next before getting the third batter to strike out.  An infield single loaded the bases, but Bednar got the next to batters to strike out, the last one with a 3-2 splitter in the dirt that Torrens was able to block.

“Not everyone would have the confidence to throw that pitch in that situation, and it may help him grow and get him over the hump,” said Wellman.The key is to be consistent and repeat the level of intensity and focus that we played with tonight and be able to do it more often.

“Then again, it helps when you’re starting pitcher is pitching his ass off.” 

Posted by John Conniff

John grew up in Poway and has written for MadFriars since 2004. He has written articles for Baseball America, FoxSports San Diego, the El Paso Times, San Antonio Express-News, Amarillo Globe-News, Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and Pacific Daily News in addition to appearing on numerous radio programs and podcasts. He can also break down the best places to eat for all five of the affiliates. There is no best place to eat in Peoria, Arizona.

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