Lawson’s baseball career on hold for the moment

Dover High grad Garrett Lawson, a former DSU standout, was a 19th-round draft pick of the Angels last summer. Delaware State sports information photo

DOVER — When all this started back in March, Garrett Lawson remembers some of the optimism that was around.

There was word that the coronavirus pandemic would postpone spring training only until April 11.

Lawson, the former Dover High baseball standout, remembers talking with a former roommate at the time.

“I looked at him and was like, ‘It isn’t going to happen,’” said Lawson. “I mean there’s no way. It’s so early and it just got worse and worse.”

With June starting tomorrow, Lawson and hundreds of other minor leaguers now find their pro baseball careers up in limbo.

Various news outlets have reported that over 400 minor league players have been released over the past month — including 200 on Friday alone.

A 19th-round draft pick of the Angels last year, Lawson thought he’d be suiting up for the Class A Burlington (Iowa) Bees right now. Instead, the left-handed pitcher is back in Dover and thinking about looking for a job.

Garrett Lawson

Lawson, who was the 2019 MEAC Pitcher of the Year at Delaware State, is still a member of the Angels’ farm system. But he’s not sure how long he’ll continue to get paid and when he’ll play baseball again.

While the Major Leagues continue to haggle over playing an abbreviated season, most people assume the minor league season will simply be canceled.

“It’s frustrating,” said Lawson. “My agent just tells me to file for unemployment, which I plan on doing. … He said just kind of hunker down, get a job somewhere because nothing’s going to happen any time soon.”

Lawson was fairly optimistic about the way things were looking for him coming into the spring.

He spent last summer working out at the Angels’ spring-training complex in Arizona. He’d gained about 30 pounds to build his 6-foot-3 frame up to a sturdier 220 pounds and worked on his mechanics.

“I kind of knew everyone,” said Lawson. “I was getting in the rhythm of everything.”

Now, in the meantime, Lawson will continue to work out. The Angels have all their pitching prospects on throwing programs.

Still, there’s only so much preparation he can do for a season that probably won’t be played.

“I’m just going to throw three or four times a week and lift (weights) like I’ve been doing,” he said. “Other than that, there’s no sense in ramping up for something that isn’t going to be there.

“I’m more of a pessimistic-type of thinker. I don’t like to be optimistic just to have something not go my way. From the beginning of this, I knew deep down that there probably wasn’t going to be a season this year. It’s more or less getting toned and dialed in for next year.”

Lawson has heard talk of player-development camps in the fall. Until something is definite, however, it’s just talk.

On top of everything else, Major League Baseball is also reportedly going to eliminate 42 minor-league affiliates. That will mean even fewer playing opportunities for prospects.

Lawson can’t control any of that, of course. So he will start looking for work, maybe in landscaping.

His uncle has a farm and Lawson will probably help him when it’s harvest time.

Whatever happens next, it’s a lot different than the plans Lawson had in his mind not that long ago.

“I pictured, hopefully, spending most of my time this year in low A,” he said. “Then, later in the year, get called up to high A and play a couple games with them. My plan next year was to hopefully start out at high A and end up at AA.

“I’m on a group chat with 40 other guys and some other teams have released guys. I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean. There’s a lot of unknowns.”