Dominating Hornet lefty, ex-Senator Lawson eyes MLB draft

Dover High product Garrett Lawson sometimes draws as many as 20 MLB scouts to his Hornet starts. Photo courtesy of DSU Sports Information

DOVER — Garrett Lawson says it’s pretty crazy to think about the situation he is in now.

The former Dover High pitcher and current ace left-hander at Delaware State University is likely to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team next month.

“I never thought I’d even have a chance, a person from Dover, Delaware who’s never got out of Dover, Delaware,” Lawson said.

Looking at Lawson’s season, though, it’s easy to see why he’s been contacted by every MLB team.

Lawson has posted a 1.68 earned run average in 10 starts for the Hornets this year. The junior is 6-3 with 81 strikeouts while holding opposing hitters to a .197 batting average.

Lawson’s starts typically have anywhere from five to 10 to sometimes 20 scouts in attendance.

However, his career trajectory was almost thrown off due to injury — twice.

After Lawson had a solid sophomore season as Dover’s No. 3 starting pitcher, he was expected to take the No. 1 spot as a junior. But a shoulder injury hampered his success that year.

As a result of his shoulder injury, Lawson said he lost all interest from the colleges who were looking at him. Delaware State was the only school that kept its scholarship.

Lawson rebounded from the injury and was named first team All-State as a senior at Dover. He worked his way into DSU’s weekend rotation as a freshman before the injury bug bit him again as a sophomore.

This time, Lawson had a decision to make.

He suffered an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which usually means Tommy John surgery for pitchers and a recovery that can last longer than a year.

But Lawson was told he had a 60 percent chance to heal just by rehabbing the injury. It took almost nine months, but Lawson started throwing in October and felt as good as he ever had.

“I took my chances and it worked out,” Lawson said.

Not only did Lawson feel great, the results were unlike anything he had done before his UCL rehab.

After his throwing program was complete to finish his rehab, Lawson was touching 92-93 miles per hour on the radar gun. He was clocked at 95 mph this spring and has been sitting anywhere from 90-93 mph during games while topping out at 94-95 mph.

Needless to say, MLB teams took notice of a 6-foot-3 lefthander with that kind of velocity.

Five scouts came to watch him pitch at a DSU workout in November. Two weeks later, at Delaware State’s Scout Day, Lawson threw in front of between 20-30 scouts and hit 93 mph consistently.

“That’s when everything started to pick up,” Lawson said. “I’ve talked to basically every team. They’re just excited for me and wanted to see me make some jumps this year. I’ve just wanted to stay focused all year and get better each start.”

If Lawson is drafted in the MLB Draft (June 3-5), he will be the first Hornet selected since Dan Perkins in 2009 was picked in the 27th round by the Colorado Rockies.

The Hornets do have a history of pitchers being drafted in the last two decades. Perkins was a pitcher and DelState had a pair of pitchers selected in 2004 with Eric Carter, also a Dover High product, drafted in the 10th round by the Seattle Mariners and Shawn Phillips (Laurel High) picked in the 20th round by the Texas Rangers.

Tim Vaillancourt, another pitcher, was drafted out of DelState by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 31st round. Outfielder Scott Martin was drafted that same year in the 34th round by the Chicago White Sox.

Lawson has actually been training under the tutelage of Vaillancourt since he was 15. He said one of the main reasons he wanted to go to Delaware State was to follow in Vaillancourt’s footsteps.

“I never thought that I would even be looked at,” Lawson said. “Tim is mostly the guy who developed me into what I am. He told me I would be great and I bought into that.”

Pedro Swann in 1991 in the only other Hornet to be picked in the draft. He was drafted in the 26th round by the Toronto Blue Jays and ended up making the Majors.

Lawson will have a decision to make at the end of the season if he will indeed enter the draft or return for his senior season. He said he’ll make up his mind after the year is over.

If he does not enter the draft, Lawson is lined up to play in the Cape Cod League in the summer with other top college players.

“The way I look at it is I have a guaranteed three starts left at DelState this year or four depending on how we do (in the conference tournament”,” Lawson said. “I’ll do my best every start to give the scouts an idea of what they want to invest in. It’s like a business so I want to market myself the best I can in these starts to show them why they should make an investment.”

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