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2023 Diamondbacks Reviews: #35 Jordan Lawlar

On opening day, will Jordan Lawlar be the Diamondbacks’ shortstop?

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Lawlar hit a single in game 2 of the NLCS.
Lawlar hit a single in game 2 of the NLCS.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

FOverview

  • Rating: 4.00
  • 2023 stats: Batting: 14 G, 0 HR in 34 PAs, .129/.206/.129 (-5 OPS+), 0.2 bWAR
  • Date of birth: July 17, 2002 (21 years old)
  • 2023 salary: League minimum (pre-arb).
  • 2024 status: On 40-man roster. Possible shortstop on the active roster.

Vote Breakdown:

AZ Snake Pit.

Introduction

The Diamondbacks drafted Jordan Lawlar #6 overall in the 2021 draft. He is a top-100 prospect in baseball.

Although I’m confident he recovered his full capabilities, two injuries slowed down his development.

  • In August of 2021, in his second game his shoulder was injured. He needed surgery to repair a posterior labrum tear.
  • In October of 2022, his left scapula was fractured (hit by pitch injury).

“If you’re not able to be out there on the field getting those live game reps against higher competition, you’re not developing as fast as you should be.” — Jordan Lawlar, Sept 2023

The internet has contradictory opinions about his strengths and weaknesses. Examples include his hitting (range 35 to 60), fielding (range 45 to 60), and throwing (range 50 to 55). Either his arm is strong or it doesn’t have enough umph. And is his throwing style really atypical? On the other hand, there is agreement his running is awesome (60).

“He’s a plus runner with instincts that make him an even better base runner.” — Jim Bowden, August 2023

My view is that as Lawlar develops, and reaches a high level of consistency, each of his strengths will shine brightly. However, I wonder whether he will reach that consistency for all of his strengths by the start of next season.

2023 Review

Three highlights follow:

On 7 September, at age 21, Jordan Lawlar made his debut in the Majors. He played shortstop and Geraldo Perdomo played third base. In Lawlar’s second PA he hit a single, advancing Moreno to second base (but no runners scored that inning).

On 9 September, in the tenth inning, he was hit by pitch. He advanced to second base on a passed ball, and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. He reached home on a single. His run mattered because the Diamondbacks won that game 3 to 2.

On 31 October, in game 4 of the World Series, he reached first base with an 8 pitch walk. He advanced to third (he took an extra base) on a single by Perdomo. He crossed home on a single by Moreno.

In September, did Lawlar bat to his potential? The short answer is no. The longer answer has two parts. The first part is that often rookies need to make adjustments when they reach the Majors. The second part is Jordan Lawlar’s batting has a very high ceiling. Reasons that his ceiling is high follow:

  • This Season in Reno (AAA) — His .063 home runs per PA was the highest of the Diamondbacks. His 1.049 OPS was the fourth highest. I’m impressed that Lawlar was the youngest batter.
  • Power and Bat Speed — He “has so much more power than a typical big league shortstop at such a young age,” per this FanGraphs’ prospect report. Lawlar’s swing is compact with above-average bat speed per this Baseball America’s prospect report.

“Some of Lawlar’s other strengths give off strong “Jeter” vibes; his batting eye, mannerism, approach and potential to be great, and the relentless work he’s put into reaching baseball God-like status before ever stepping on an MLB field.” — Devon POV Mason

2024 Outlook

It’s likely that Jordan Lawlar will start the season in the Majors. How well he plays will determine whether he moves to the bench.

Where should Lawlar play? In the minors and Majors, he exclusively played shortstop except for one AAA game at third base. Clearly, that is his best position. Keith Law was likely correct when he wrote that Lawlar is a true shortstop, although he acknowledged that some people think Lawlar should be moved to third base. In late November, the Diamondbacks acquired third baseman Eugenio Suarez, making it extremely unlikely that Lawlar will be moved to third base. A second reason Lawlar will stay at shortstop is that in a pinch Geraldo Perdomo could play third base. August/September Geraldo Perdomo played 11% of his innings at third base, accumulating 2 DRS at third base without committing any errors. A third reason Lawlar will stay at shortstop is that the bench can play third base. The bench could include Emmanuel Rivera (utility player and right-handed bat) and Jace Peterson (utility player and left-handed bat).

How well will he bat? The following table shows two projections and a daring prediction. My prediction is that his batting will be nearly the same as Derek Jeter’s first full season.

Data from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

If Jordan Lawlar can bat at the Derek Jeter level, the outlook is promising that he will play shortstop for the Diamondbacks. If not, Geraldo Perdomo will play shortstop until Jordan Lawlar is ready.