Diamondbacks call up top prospect SS Jordan Lawlar
Sep 6, 2023, 4:08 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
The Arizona Diamondbacks are calling up standout shortstop prospect Jordan Lawlar, manager Torey Lovullo announced on Wednesday.
Azcentral’s Nick Piecoro first reported the news, and Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro confirmed the call-up. Arizona designated its longest tenured player, shortstop Nick Ahmed, for assignment to make room for Lawlar.
It is the second straight season Arizona has called up its top-ranked prospect late in the campaign after doing so with Corbin Carroll in 2022.
Lawlar is a 21-year-old shortstop who went No. 6 overall in the 2021 MLB Draft out of high school. He only played 16 games with Triple-A Reno before getting selected but produced a 1.050 OPS, five home runs and 19 RBIs. He hit two home runs on Tuesday in a dominant 9-for-15 stretch at the plate.
Before his promotion to Reno, Lawlar held an .840 OPS with 15 homers and 33 stolen bases in Double-A Amarillo.
Lawlar has been Arizona’s consensus top-ranked prospect since Carroll fully graduated at the start of this season.
He will be thrust into a pennant race, joining a club firmly in the hunt for a National League Wild Card spot. Arizona is a half-game out of the final position entering play on Wednesday afternoon.
Players on the 40-man roster or 60-day injured list by Sept. 1 are postseason eligible, but there are injury replacements to give teams some leeway. Active rosters expanded to 28 players at the start of September, but the D-backs gave Lawlar extra reps in Reno.
Lawlar successfully put a slow start to 2023 behind him, avoiding the Development List and working with his hitting coordinators before and after games to right the ship.
“He had about a month stretch early on where he really scuffled, it was the first time he’s ever really struggled,” D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said last week. “But he was able to work his way through that. I think he learned a lot through those struggles. Since then, he’s really swung the bat well and controlled the zone well. He’s got a very balanced, compact swing. He does a good job of competing in his at-bats.”
He was below the Mendoza line entering June, but he broke out with an electric two-and-a-half months before getting promoted to Reno on Aug. 15.
Lawlar homered in his first game with the Aces and picked up hits in 10 of his first 12 games.
He’s an athletic defender who needed polish at shortstop after the draft, an area Barfield said he’s improving.
“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Barfield said. “I think part of the reason he’s gotten so much better this year is his work ethic, the attention to detail. “I think he did a lot of it on athleticism through high school and didn’t really know the fundamentals, all the fine details of playing shortstop. He’s doing a good job of learning that.”
Lawlar started his first minor league game at third base on Tuesday, showing the D-backs are not afraid to move him to fit him into their plans. Lovullo said he’s an option at both shortstop and third base.
The D-backs have had a shortstop platoon with All-Star Geraldo Perdomo and Ahmed, although both have been well below league average hitters against lefties this year.
Lawlar had a 1.126 OPS against lefties this year in Double-A, albeit primarily in hitter-friendly environments.
Lovullo said Lawlar will be the starting shortstop against lefties going forward.
Perdomo also gives the D-backs flexibility with the ability to play third base and second base, thus allowing both Lawlar and Perdomo to play together. Third base has been a rotating spot all year with Josh Rojas, Emmanuel Rivera, Jace Peterson, Evan Longoria and Buddy Kennedy.
Lawlar gives the D-backs more juice on the base paths with strong bat-to-ball skills. He is young, so part of the calculation of playing time will need to balance development and winning, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Lovullo said he’s been in contact with Lawlar this year, as he is with several players in development.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him, it’s gonna be a great moment for him and this organization.”