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Prospect Notes: Changeup Elevates Reggie Lawson To New Heights

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Reggie Lawson (Photo by Andy Hayt)

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif.—For all intents and purposes, Reggie Lawson did not have a changeup at low Class A Fort Wayne last year.

He technically had it. It just may as well never existed, because he never used it.

That’s no longer the case this season. At high Class A Lake Elsinore, Lawson has unleashed a new and improved changeup, and it’s elevating him to new heights.

Lawson pitched five scoreless innings with two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts in Lake Elsinore’s 2-0 win over Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. His fastball sat 93-95 mph, his tight-spinning curveball dropped in for strikes at 74-76 mph and, most importantly, his 84-85 mph changeup made hitters look positively foolish, a new and welcome development in the 20-year-old righthander’s progression.

“Those are the best three or four changeups he's thrown in his career as a Padre,” Lake Elsinore pitching coach Pete Zamora said. “And I've seen him for two years. To me, he has the most confidence in his changeup he's ever had."

The Padres drafted Lawson 71st overall in 2016 and patiently waited for the talented but raw righthander to come into his own. He posted an 8.31 ERA in the Rookie-level Arizona League after signing, and he went 4-6, 5.30 in the Midwest League in his first full season last year.

But Lawson has blossomed in 2018. He’s throwing harder (he previously sat 91-94 mph), his curveball is spinning tighter and now he’s got a viable changeup to add a whole new dimension to his arsenal.

The result has been a 5-2, 2.61 mark in 12 starts this season, a career-low 1.27 WHIP and a selection to the California League all-star game.

“The biggest thing with me is that in '16, he had a 90 mph changeup, and now he's down to 84-85, so he's throwing a quality, legit changeup,” Zamora said. “The differential is money right now, so he's getting a tremendous amount of confidence in that.”

GAVIN LUX HEADED FOR DL

Rancho Cucamonga shortstop Gavin Lux will be placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury retroactive to June 13, the team announced Thursday. Lux, the Dodgers’ No. 14 prospect, injured the hamstring legging out a double in the fifth inning on Tuesday and was removed the next half inning. Lux’s injury means he won’t play in the California League all-star game next Tuesday. He was selected as the South Division’s starting shortstop after batting .312/.396/.515 with 17 doubles, eight home runs and seven stolen bases.

RICH HILL, JOEY LUCCHESI SHARP IN REHAB STARTS

Rich Hill (blister) and Joey Lucchesi (hip strain) made rehab starts for Rancho Cucamonga and Lake Elsinore, respectively, on Thursday and were both exceptionally sharp.

Hill, out since May 19, struck out 10 in 4.2 innings and didn’t allow an earned run. He threw 58 of 75 pitches for strikes and reported perfect health after coming out. Hill also used the rehab start to test out some mechanical adjustments he made after beginning the season with a 6.60 ERA in six starts.

“That was the best I’ve felt all year,” Hill said. “We made some mechanical adjustments, (Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt) and myself, made some small, really small, mechanical adjustments just over the rubber that actually provided me to get back that efficient spin rate that I had the last three years….Just one small adjustment getting my heel back over the rubber, and being able to add my weight down through my heel instead of over my toe, it made a big difference.”

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Lucchesi, who hadn’t pitched since May 14, threw four no-hit innings with no walks and six strikeouts. He faced one over the minimum and threw 32 of 43 pitches for strikes.

As per tradition, the rehabbing big leaguers bought dinner for the minor leaguers after their starts. Hill supplied steak with sides of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables for the Quakes. Lucchesi provided an Italian spread of various pastas and chicken dishes for the Storm.

JO ADELL HOMERS AGAIN

Jo Adell is really getting the Cal League figured out. The Angels' No. 1 prospect homered for the second straight game on Thursday against Lancaster, and now has seven homers in 22 games since being promoted from low Class A Burlington to high Class A Inland Empire.

“For me, the key has been just to capitalize off mistakes,” Adell said after homering Wednesday. “When I was in Burlington there were more pitches that I was able to drive. I could afford to foul off my pitch and then later in the at-bat get that pitch to hit again. Here, it’s more you foul it off you might not see it again the rest of that at-bat. So it’s really important just to be on time, have rhythm, and I feel like I’ve been able to find that and do that.”

The 19-year-old outfielder is batting .429/.467/.810 with four doubles and four home runs in his last 10 games.

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