Lawley Figuring Out His Swing

Lawley leads the FSL in HRs & RBIs

ST. LUCIE, FL - For left fielder Dustin Lawley, there is something about night games. Something that makes his bat fly faster and the balls he hits flutter farther. After all, every single one of his 25 home runs, a league best, has come after dark. Of course with 99 night games and only 16 day games this phenomenon also may just be a statistical anomaly.

It may be that his success with the long ball stems from his laidback attitude – "I try not to think about [it] too much, just got to relax and play." Or it may have to do with the fact that, according to him, "the ball carries better" at Tradition Field as opposed to Grayson Stadium – "Savannah was a huge ballpark." Whatever the answer, Lawley is having a ball and is hopeful that his breakout season will earn him a promotion.

"I feel like I'm having a pretty good year," Lawley said. "I mean, you got your ups and downs, you know, baseball's funny like that. I've just been trying to stay within myself and just take it one day at a time. Just going out there and not trying to do too much or think about it, just whatever happens, happens."

What has happened so far is that Lawley is leading the Florida State League in home runs [25] and RBIs [90]. Furthermore, the Alabama native is second in slugging percentage [.521], sixth in OPS [.836] and fifth with 115 hits.

"He's having a very productive year," Mets manager Ryan Ellis said. "He's done all the things we've asked him to do and his numbers mirror that."

For the St. Lucie skipper, Lawley's surge in home runs is a "reflection on his approach."

"I think he's really honed in on controlling the strike zone and getting better pitches to hit within that strike zone," Ellis said. "So he [has] the ability to put the ball in play hard, it's just fortunate enough for him and the team that he's putting the ball out of the ballpark in key situations."

Lawley would likely agree with his manager's assessment.

"I still got more work to do," the 24-year-old admitted. "But I'm figuring out my swing, you know, what pitches I like to hit and drive and my hitting coach Benny [Distefano], he's helped me a little bit with that and just figuring out my swing and becoming more mature at the plate."

For many hitters more maturity at the plate also means more consistency across the board and Lawley's numbers show that: Pre All-Star break the hitter batted .231, had 12 home runs and 45 RBIs; post All-Star break he has so far accounted for a .298 average, 12 home runs and 42 RBIs. But Ellis is not only impressed with Lawley's consistency on offense; he also praises the left fielder for his versatility on defense.

"He's been really consistent," Ellis said. "He's consistent and versatile. You know, you can play him in left field, you can play him at third base, we could probably put him at center if we have to or right.

"You know, he's a big body kid, but he moves around very well. He knows the game and he could actually be our third catcher if we needed one so that's how versatile he is and he's been consistent.

"He's not too high, he's not too low. And that's an attribute to him and the way he goes about his business and the routine and the mindset that he comes in every day with."

But while Lawley could theoretically play any of the aforementioned positions, his current one fits his personality best.

"I like the outfield better," Lawley acknowledged. "It's just more relaxed, I mean, anybody will tell you, outfield's more relaxed. But third base, [if] somebody went down or gets hurt or something like that, I can play the infield. But outfield's my … I just like being relaxed and it's a lot more [fun] for me."

Of course, Lawley also gets a lot of his satisfaction from crushing baseballs which is why it's not surprising that he enjoyed competing in the league's home run derby. The Mets slugger tied with four other competitors in the first round, hitting six dingers, but unfortunately did not advance because two other hitters had entered the competition with more home runs.

"It was fun," Lawley said. "That was my first home run derby. It was really fun, the first round [I] hit six, there [were] like four guys got tied for six and they only took … they took two guys and left me and the other guy out to go, but, I mean, it was still fun to go. It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun."

Lawley's happy-go-lucky attitude has also allowed him to realize that some things are out of his control and that worrying about what the organization's future plans for him are is a pointless exercise.

"I feel like I've [proven] myself. I feel like I'm ready for the next level. Whatever they want to do, I mean, I really have no control over what they decide, so that's out of my hands. But all I can do is go out there and control what I can control and then they decide what they want to do," Lawley concluded.

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