The Arizona Diamondbacks will call up infield prospect Jordan Lawlar for their September playoff push, the team announced Wednesday. Prior to the call-up, the club tasked shortstop Lawlar, a shortstop coming up through the system, with cross-training at third base ahead of a potential promotion, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro reported. Lawlar started his first career game at the hot corner on Tuesday, with the Diamondbacks looking to improve their optionality for the stretch run.
Lawlar, 21, has split the season between Double- and Triple-A. He batted .263/.366/.474 with 15 home runs in 89 games at Double-A. Since being bumped up a level, he's hit .358/.438/.612 with five home runs in 16 games. CBS Sports ranked him as the 10th-best prospect in the game back in June, and that was before he really hit his stride at either level. Here's what we wrote:
As an amateur, Lawlar often elicited comparisons to Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. because of the similarities in their profiles (both were older prepsters with good power and defense projections) and the 30-minute drivetime between their hometowns. Whereas Witt treated Double-A like a minor challenge on his way to the majors, Lawlar has scuffled there dating back to last season. We're not ready to hit the panic button yet for a few reasons. Foremost, it's an aggressive assignment that has him playing against competition that's on average five years older than him, and with a grip-enhanced ball that has caused the offensive environment to go haywire. Lawlar also performed well in the Arizona Fall League last year, and he still has the physical traits that had evaluators envisioning him as an All-Star-caliber player not too long ago.
The Diamondbacks have struggled to find production at third base this season. They rank 23rd in Wins Above Replacement from the position, with Emmanuel Rivera, Josh Rojas (since traded), Evan Longoria, and Jace Peterson seeing most of the action there. Lawlar would give the Diamondbacks a potential boost as they pursue a playoff spot.
"If he comes up here, it's not going to be the expectation that he's (a savior)," Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen told Piecoro. "He is going to be an extra player on the team if he comes up here. He'll get his opportunities, but we need the collective group up here to make him an extra player, too, to make him sort of a cherry on the sundae. That's what we'll be working for if that happens."
It's worth noting that Lawlar could become postseason-eligible despite not being on the 40-player roster or injured list at the Aug. 31 cutoff. As MLB.com explains:
A player who doesn't meet said criteria for postseason eligibility can still be added to a team's roster in the postseason via petition to the Commissioner's Office if the player was in the organization on Aug. 31 and is replacing someone who is on the injured list and has served the minimum amount of time required for activation. (For example, a player on the 10-day injured list who has been on it for at least 10 days, or a player who has been on the 60-day injured list for at least 60 days.) Players who are acquired in September or after are ineligible.
The Diamondbacks entered Wednesday with a 71-68 record on the season, putting them one game back in the National League wild-card race.