Two home runs in the span of three innings, all while fielding an unfamiliar position. That's just the latest installment in the tale of Jordan Lawlar's tear through the upper Minors.
MLB Pipeline's No. 10 overall prospect went deep in each of his first two trips to the plate, hitting both round-trippers off right-hander Tanner Gordon (Rockies). Lawlar ended the night 2-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored and three RBIs, one shy of his career high.
To top it all off, baseball's third-ranked shortstop prospect made his first professional appearance at third base. He deftly handled a ground ball by Michael Toglia to end the third inning in his one fielding opportunity.
Lawlar's first long ball of the evening was hammered at 102.3 mph off the bat, traveling a projected 395 feet to left field and scoring leadoff man Jake McCarthy to give the Aces a two-run lead in the first. The 21-year-old jumped on the first strike he saw and said he was confident he put a good swing on it, though he "ran pretty hard" around the bases since he wasn't certain how the ball would travel at Isotopes Park, where he was playing for the first time.
There was far less doubt the second time around. When Lawlar stepped to the plate in the third, he worked a full count and launched a sinker to left-center for a solo shot.
"It's pretty cool to go up there and just know you're swinging a good bat," he said of his big night at the plate.
Lawlar established a solid power foundation with 16 home runs in 100 games across four levels of the Minors in 2022, his first full professional season. The latest long balls brought his 2023 tally to 20 so far, including five in his first 16 Triple-A games.
Just over two years removed from being selected sixth overall in the 2021 Draft out of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, Lawlar is a step away from the big leagues. The D-backs' top prospect slashed .263/.366/.474 in 89 games with Double-A Amarillo and has seemingly not missed a beat since moving up to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League on Aug. 15.
"It's been a step up, for sure," Lawlar said. "But it's been solid. It's been fun to go out there and face a better caliber of pitching -- more in command for sure -- and there's definitely some guys with some better stuff up here. It's just fun to come to the field every night and know I have to compete and put my best foot forward to succeed."
Lawlar has made that transition look easier than he described. Lawlar is hitting an eye-popping .358 with a 1.050 OPS for Reno. It's a small sample size, but he's hit safely in all but two contests, tallying seven multihit games.
His recent promotion to Triple-A isn't the only thing Lawlar is adjusting to, as he figures to get more playing time at third going forward. He made his first start at the hot corner after playing exclusively at shortstop (188 games) and designated hitter (16) since he was drafted by Arizona.
With Geraldo Perdomo's emergence as a key contributor at shortstop for the D-backs this season, Lawlar's work at third could pave a clearer path to the big leagues once the time comes.
"It's nice to be versatile," he said. "One of my goals is to be a complete player, a dynamic guy on both sides of the ball, wherever it may be. So wherever they think I can do that defensively or offensively, my head's down. I'm going to work for it."