Diamondbacks’ Torey Lovullo confident in Geraldo Perdomo as everyday shortstop

Feb 20, 2024, 7:24 PM

Geraldo Perdomo...

Geraldo Perdomo #2 of the Arizona Diamondbacks prepares to bat in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Two of the World Series at Globe Life Field on October 28, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

GLENDALE — No more platoons for Geraldo Perdomo, as manager Torey Lovullo has publicly given his 24-year-old shortstop the keys to the everyday starting role in 2024.

The switch-hitter started 97 games at shortstop while platooning with veteran Nick Ahmed and briefly with top prospect Jordan Lawlar due to ineffectiveness against left-handed pitching last season. Perdomo was the everyday shortstop in 2022 due to injuries but has grown as a player and leader.

Perdomo amassed 2.5 WAR (Baseball Reference and FanGraphs average) and made the NL All-Star team as an injury replacement in 2023, a breakout season that set up his future with the franchise.

“I want to say it and tell the world that he’s going to be our everyday starting shortstop and maybe (start) 135-140-plus,” Lovullo said on Monday. “He knows what that means. He knows that to get the reps that we want him to and to get to that number, he’s got to be a very good right-handed hitter. … I know it’s a lot of hard work that’s going on behind the scenes, so we need him to continue growing and learning every single day.”

Perdomo is hitting the ball hard early in camp, from batting practice to homering off Arizona’s top-ranked pitching prospect Yu-Min Lin (a lefty) in live BP on Monday.

He received 424 plate appearances against righties (.736 OPS) and only 71 against southpaws last season (.579 OPS), but even in a platoon he played 144 games. He was a versatile infielder with reps at second base and third base who found ways to be productive on offense even without close to average hard hit rates.

Perdomo walked at a 12.9% rate, which ranked 25th among MLB hitters with 400 plate appearances. That came as primarily a No. 8 or 9 hitter in the lineup without much power, which stands out on a list with Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez and Mookie Betts. He led the league in sacrifice hits and stole 16 bases.

He made at-bats difficult for opposing pitchers with Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte due up, even as his offensive output in the second half of the year dipped dramatically.

Lovullo highlighted his intangibles, a growing leader in a veteran infield who takes command of the position.

“He’s a very confident, comfortable player that wants to win championships,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “That’s all he talks about. And he talks about growing and learning every single day. So he’s exactly what we want as an Arizona Diamondback. He’s a leader by example.

“He’s not going to stop just because I’ve handed him the opportunity to get those 140 games played this year, which I know he’s excited about. It doesn’t mean that he’s going to stop growing and learning. He’s going to be an exceptional player for us, and I expect really good things for him.”

This inspires the question of what this all means for Lawlar, who is a top 11 prospect in baseball via MLB Pipeline and the fourth-ranked prospect by The Athletic’s Keith Law.

Lawlar is quite the athlete who is growing as a defender and moved from draftee to major leaguer in two years despite a post-draft injury and a tough start to 2023 getting in his way. His major league stint at the end of 2023 was not fruitful, although the D-backs kept him as a bench option during the postseason.

General manager Mike Hazen said there has to be a role for him to make the Opening Day roster but has maintained confidence in Lawlar becoming a staple.

“I think his performance last year, he did a good job defensively, for sure. I think from an at-bat standpoint, there’s still some growth that needs to happen,” Hazen said at the start of camp.

“But he’s gonna figure that out pretty quickly, and he’s gonna come out here and compete. He’s too good of a player to not be playing, he needs to play. Now that might be with us, it might not be. But we think he’s gonna have a chance to be a stud in this league for a long time and part of what we’re going to be as an organization today and moving forward.”

Lovullo’s message to Lawlar given what he’s said regarding Perdomo was simple:

“Don’t worry about when your playing time is gonna come, let us figure that out,” Lovullo said Tuesday. “Your game is gonna tell us the story that needs to be told, if and when you’re gonna be ready. Block out the black noise, we’ve got an All-Star shortstop in Perdomo which we love. We have unbelievable talent in Jordan. How it lands, we don’t even know. We want them to go out and both be the best version of themselves, take care of one another, build up one another and see where that takes you.”

Diamondbacks spring training notes

Kevin Ginkel

Ginkel got off to a slow start this spring due to right elbow soreness, but he was back on the bump throwing a bullpen on Tuesday.

“Ginkel looked very good,” Lovullo said. “He got to all pitches and wasn’t perfect, it was his first bullpen, but the shape and the velocity of his pitches were just fine. … Everything seems to be trending in a very positive direction.”

Imaging came back clean on Ginkel’s elbow. He carried a heavy workload for the Diamondbacks last year, throwing in 43 games from the start of July through the postseason. He expects to throw another bullpen later this week.

When will Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly start?

The plan for Gallen to take the mound in a spring training game is March 1 and for Kelly March 8. They are pushed back given the workload they handled last season. Gallen kept throwing through the offseason, while Kelly took some time off.

“It is a formula that really the medical team thought with the combination of Zac and Merril’s input, and so we feel like it’s the best way to have them ready as possible for the entire season,” Lovullo said.

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