After rejoining Blue Jays organization, Delone grad reflects on his pro baseball journey

ROB ROSE
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  • Delone Catholic graduate Casey Lawrence has rejoined the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
  • Lawrence has been assigned to the organization's Triple-A franchise.
  • Lawrence had been slated to start the 2021 season with the York Revolution.
Delone Catholic High Schoiol graduate Casey Lawrence is seen here throwing for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017. Lawrence has rejoined the Blue Jays organization and has been assigned to the organization's Triple-A franchise.

When the Toronto Blue Jays released Casey Lawrence in 2017, he didn’t harbor any feelings of resentment toward the organization.

Toronto signed the Delone Catholic High School graduate as an undrafted free agent out of NCAA Division III Albright College and gave him a chance to realize his dream of pitching in the major leagues.

Since then, the Blue Jays’ front office has changed, but more than a decade later Toronto has again signed Lawrence as a free agent. Wednesday, Lawrence, 33, signed a deal to return to Toronto on a minor-league deal.

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“One thing I've learned in this game is you never know what's going to happen and don't burn bridges,” Lawrence said. “At every stop, I think one of the biggest things is being respectful and just kind of having a little bit of a feel for your surroundings. A lot of these guys in baseball now, you never know where they're gonna be next year. They could be coaching a team, they can be managing a team or they could be running the team. I think it's bigger now than ever.”

Going to Triple-A: Lawrence has been assigned to Triple-A Buffalo and was activated before Wednesday’s game.

The right-hander spent 2010 until 2017 with the Jays' organization, including a brief stint in the majors with Toronto in 2017.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, the Blue Jays are playing their home major-league games at the Triple-A facility in Buffalo, New York. Lawrence’s Bisons team, meanwhile, has taken over Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, New Jersey, formerly the home stadium for the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, the Trenton Thunder.

Lawrence had signed to play with the York Revolution this summer, but he's now become one of 22 players in the Atlantic League to sign a deal with an MLB team before a game was played in the league’s season.

Lots of good players looking for work: The former Squire said with how young the minor-league systems have gotten, combined with the recent contraction of minor-league teams, it’s not surprising that there are so many talented players looking for work.

“There are a lot of guys that are waiting for that opportunity, so they could have called anybody,” Lawrence said. “I’m happy it was me, but, there's gonna be a lot of really good baseball players in the Atlantic League, in the independent leagues, because of where major-league organizations are right now.” 

In 38 MLB games between Toronto and the Seattle Mariners during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Lawrence has a 3-3 record with a 6.64 ERA. In 2019, he played Hiroshima in Japan and went 4-7 with a 4.51 ERA. Lawrence spent part of 2020 with the Minnesota Twins at the alternate training facility, but never was called up to the active major league roster.

Across nine seasons in the minor leagues, Lawrence is 73-69 with a 3.77 ERA and 766 strikeouts in 1,129 1/3 innings. That includes 15 wins and a 3.73 lifetime ERA at the Triple-A level.

He's come a long way over the last decade: Lawrence returns to the Blue Jays organization a different person and player than he was a decade ago.

Now a husband and a father, Lawrence’s perspectives of the sport and life have changed, but the goal remains the same — win games and make it back to the majors.

“I've learned so much in this game. When you come in as a young kid, you think you know everything and you don’t,” Lawrence said. “Not only things like mechanics or things that will help me pitch, but the way the game is, the business behind the game. When you're young, you take those things for granted and as you get older you start to understand how many people it actually takes to run an organization. I think I've really grown and matured, and I’m happy to be back and help the team anyway I can.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.