Local pitcher with major-league experience signs deal with York Revolution for 2021

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
  • Two more players have agreed to deals with the York Revoltuion.
  • Delone Catholic grad Casey Lawrence, a former major leaguer, has agreed to join the Revs.
  • The 33-year-old right-hander has three major-league victories and 73 minor-league wins.
Seattle Mariners pitcher Casey Lawrence warms up during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Friday, March 23, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Mariners and White Sox game ended in a 5-5 tie. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The York Revolution's 2021 season just got more interesting for local baseball fans.

The Revs have reached a deal with Delone Catholic High School graduate Casey Lawrence for the upcoming Atlantic League season, which starts May 28.

York also resigned outfielder Darian Sandford, one of the top stolen-base threats in Atlantic League history.

The two signings were announced by Revs manager Mark Mason on Monday’s airing of Revs Hot Stove Weekly presented by Shipley Energy live on SportsRadio 98.9 FM & 1350 WOYK.

Lawrence has enjoyed an unlikely pro baseball journey, going from an undrafted free agent out of an NCAA Division III program to become a major-league pitcher. Now he will join the Revs in the hopes of getting back to the big leagues.

The right-hander is expected to join the front end of the Revolution starting rotation. The 33-year-old McSherrystown native enters his 11th season of pro baseball and is coming off a 2020 season that saw him twice sign minor-league deals with the Minnesota Twins despite not seeing any innings. The 2020 minor-league season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delone Catholic High grad determined to prove that he deserves another shot in the majors

The 6-foot, 2-inch hurler most recently spent 2019 playing in Japan with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, where he posted four wins, a 4.80 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 110.2 innings.

Lawrence, who now lives in Hanover, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Albright College in Reading by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.

He impressed in his first pro season, posting a 7-2 record with a 2.33 ERA in 16 games (13 starts) between Short-Season A Auburn and Single-A Lansing. He quickly rose through the Blue Jays' minor-league ranks, reaching Triple-A Buffalo by 2013. In 2015, Lawrence set the all-time wins record for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats franchise with his 20th victory, a record that he still holds with a total of 24 victories, including a 12-win showing that season.

On April 8, 2017, Lawrence received his first major-league call-up and debuted in extra innings against the Tampa Bay Rays. A month later, the Seattle Mariners claimed Lawrence off waivers, and he quickly put himself in the Mariners’ record books. On June 1, Lawrence set a Seattle record for most strikeouts in a relief appearance with nine in five innings against the Colorado Rockies. The Mariners retained Lawrence for the 2018 season, when he made the club’s opening-day roster.

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In 38 major-league games, Lawrence is 3-3 with a 6.64 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 78.2 innings. Across nine seasons in the minor leagues, Lawrence is 73-69 with a 3.77 ERA and 766 strikeouts in 1,129.1 innings. That includes 15 wins and a 3.73 lifetime ERA at the Triple-A level.

“We’re really excited to have Casey here, and I know he’s looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd,” Mason said in a news release. “He’s got great career numbers, and we see him being able to come in and be an impact starting pitcher for us right out of the gate and possibly get picked up by a major-league club again.”

Darian Sandford

Sandford is also known in central Pennsylvania: Sandford, 33, arrives in York after spending three seasons on the other side of the Susquehanna River with the rival Lancaster Barnstormers.

He originally signed with the Revs for the canceled 2020 Atlantic League season.

During his time in the Atlantic League, Sandford has batted .277 with 190 runs scored, 305 hits, 88 RBIs and a Barnstormers-record 201 stolen bases (fifth-most in Atlantic League history) in 312 games.

The St. Louis native stole 82 bases (second-most in league history) during the 2018 season, followed by 74 steals (fourth-most in league history) in 2019. He led the league by at least 24 bags in each of the last two campaigns. Sandford has been named to the Atlantic League Red, White and Blue All-Defensive Team in back-to-back seasons and played in the Atlantic League All-Star Game in 2018.

During his first Atlantic League season in 2017, Sandford batted .324 with a .403 on-base percentage and 45 steals in just 60 games played. He had his contract purchased by the Washington Nationals in June of that season, and in 50 games at Double-A Harrisburg collected 33 hits and stole 21 bases while completing a six-year journey back to a major-league organization.

“He’s a prolific base stealer,” Mason said in a news release. “He plays a great center field defensively. We’ve seen him go and get a lot of balls that had no business being caught. He’s on a short list of greatest base stealers that have ever played in this league. He can turn a walk into a triple on two pitches and we’re thrilled to have him here. He can just flat out fly and should be a nice addition to get on base for our power lineup.”

Originally a 47th-round selection by the Kansas City Royals in 2010 out of Park University in Missouri, Sandford spent two seasons in the Royals minor league system. In those two years, the 5-foot-8 outfielder sported a .263 average, collected 77 hits and 27 RBIs and stole 57 bases splitting time between the Arizona League Royals and Idaho Falls Chukars.

Sandford has spent time in several other pro baseball leagues, making appearances in the Frontier League, Can-Am League and Pacific Association. Prior to advancing to the Atlantic League, Sandford stole 123 bases in parts of two seasons for Vallejo (in the Pacific Association) and finished the 2016 season just one shy of 100 stolen bases. His 99 stolen bases in 116 attempts is still a Pacific Association single-season record.

In 835 career games, Sandford has a .260 career average and .347 on-base percentage. Entering his 11th pro season, the switch hitter has 788 career hits, 528 runs scored, and 606 stolen bases.

The Revs will continue to unveil player signings for the upcoming 2021 season live on Revs Hot Stove Weekly. The next episode will air on Monday, April 5.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. The York Revolution contributed to this report.