D-backs' Lawlar ignites Salt River's comeback

October 14th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Three different pitchers faced, three hard-hit knocks from . The third-ranked D-backs prospect was at the heart of Salt River’s furious seven-run comeback Thursday afternoon at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, igniting a walk-off 7-6 victory with a triple that opened the bottom of the seventh.

“Out of the box, I was thinking more double, and then I saw it get past him and I started to get on my horse,” Lawlar said. “[Hitting] leadoff, you definitely want to be on base, don’t get thrown out at home. Trust my guys to get me in behind me.”

It took just two batters before they brought him home. Lawlar scored the tying run on Rockies prospect Braxton Fulford’s walk-off two-RBI double, with MLB’s No. 12 overall prospect waving in pinch-runner Masyn Winn (Cardinals No. 2 prospect) to join him across home plate.

Lawlar, who served as the designated hitter for the first time during the Arizona Fall League, insists that he brings the same aggressive mindset to the box whether he also takes the field or not. All three of his knocks registered an exit velocity of at least 97.8 mph, as he raised his slash line with the Rafters to .333/.500/.667 over seven contests.

Nearly an hour before Lawlar and Winn’s mad dashes around the bags, Salt River trailed, 6-0. Lawlar, who singled to left on a heater and stole second base in the first, faced a difficult plate appearance in the form of Peoria right-handed sidewinder Alek Jacob. After running the count even on the heels of three straight offspeed pitches, Lawlar displayed his patience and found a heater, ripping it to right-center field for an RBI single.

“Obviously, with his velo, you can back up a little bit [in the box] and try to hit it the other way; stay on the sinker, stay on that big sweeping slider,” Lawlar said. “Just hit it the other way.”

That approach sounds sage coming from a player who turned just 20 years old over the summer and still has only 102 Minor League games under his belt. Pregame discussions with Hall of Famer Alan Trammell can only aid in his baseball maturation.

“We worked on some stuff defensively, just talking through that,” Lawlar said of his time with Trammell. “I pick up more from the players, honestly.”

Lawlar is one of the game’s preternaturally talented young hitters in his own right: across four levels during the regular season, he reached the elusive .300/.400/.500 slash line, while swatting 16 homers and swiping 39 bags. But he is joined atop the Rafters' lineup by Cardinals top prospect Jordan Walker (MLB No. 6) and Rockies top prospect Zac Veen (MLB No. 23), with the trio of 20-year-olds forming a fall circuit bond.

Lawlar has done his early AFL damage on the same field that the D-backs will reconvene come February 2023 when Spring Training commences. At that time, Lawlar will reunite with the young crop of talent that Arizona has accrued over the past handful of seasons, namely Corbin Carroll, MLB’s No. 3 overall prospect. The two began to form a bond when they rehabbed respective shoulder injuries in ‘21.

“We rehabbed for [about] eight months; it was together,” Lawlar said. “We were there every morning at 8, 9, grinding it out, working out, doing all that together.”

Now it’s Lawlar’s time to continue grinding. Much like how Carroll blossomed in his first full year back in action -- appearing in 32 games at the big league level -- D-backs brass has similar hopes that the sixth overall pick in the 2021 Draft can soon make a similar impact.