Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Dustin Lawley brings power to camp
By Adam Rubin
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Dustin Lawley slugged a Florida State League-leading 25 home runs during the 2013 season. Then he bypassed Double-A entirely and was promoted to Las Vegas for the final week of the regular season and playoffs.
All Lawley did was hit .300 with a homer and six RBIs in six regular-season games with the 51s.
“There’s a difference,” Lawley said Wednesday, contrasting the opposing pitching in St. Lucie versus Las Vegas. “I don’t think it’s as big a difference as some people put it out to be because it’s still baseball -- they’ve got to throw to the plate and you’ve got to hit it.”
Lawley, 24, is a 19th-round pick in 2011 out of the University of West Florida. He received an invite to big-league camp despite not being on the 40-man roster, as did fellow outfield prospects Brandon Nimmo and Cory Vaughn.
Lawley hit .260 along with 25 homers and 92 RBIs with St. Lucie before the late promotion. It was the sixth-most homers hit by a player in the league in a single season since 2005. Among the handful with more is Matt Kemp, who had 27 for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Florida State League affiliate nine years ago.
The league traditionally is known to be difficult for home-run hitters.
“Honestly, I didn’t know much about the ballparks,” Lawley said. “When I did start hitting home runs, people were telling me about how big the ballparks are and everything. I never really paid attention to how many home runs I had. I just went up there and hit, really.”
Lawley played third base in college until his senior year, when he started playing center field. With the Mets organization, he has appeared in 171 games in left field, 89 games at third base and 33 games in center field.
“When I got to my senior year of college I went for outfield -- and I started loving outfield,” Lawley said.
Lawley will begin 2014 at Binghamton or Las Vegas. His assignment could depend on the trickle-down from major league camp, with Cesar Puello, Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis all potentially in the Las Vegas outfield.
“I have no idea,” Lawley said about his assignment. “I really have no idea. I mean, obviously I’m hoping Vegas. But it really isn’t my choice. I guess we’ll just see.”