Jordan Lawlar to miss first months of 2024 due to thumb surgery

A recent thumb injury, which led to surgery, for top Diamondbacks' prospect Jordan Lawlar will cause him to miss the first few months of 2024.

Oct 26, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Jordan Lawlar (10) works out prior
Oct 26, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Jordan Lawlar (10) works out prior / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks' depth chart just took a meteor-sized hit today, as top shortstop prospect Jordan Lawlar will undergo thumb surgery. The 2021 first-round pick tore his UCL ligament in his hand while fielding a ground ball. However, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the infielder will take up to ten weeks to recover.

Although Lawlar did not make the D-Backs' Opening Day roster, as Geraldo Perdomo will open the year at shortstop for the Snakes, it would not have been surprising to see him take over the position during the first half of the 2024 campaign. Lawlar had an outstanding 2023 season, batting .278/.378/.496 with a .389 wOBA and 136 wRC+ between Double-A and Triple-A. Lawlar hit for a .218 isolated slugging percentage with 20 home runs but also went 36-for-41 in stolen base attempts.

The biggest improvement Lawlar made was in his plate discipline. There were some questions about his hit tool entering the 2023 season after he put up an unimpressive 25.1% strikeout rate in 2022. But he cut that down to just 20.6% in 2023. Meanwhile, his walk rate did not change drastically, only dropping from 12.4% to 11.4% between 2022 and 2023.

Lawlar's strong 2023 minor league season earned him a September promotion, but he struggled in the few games he played. The middle infielder only stepped to the plate 34 times with only four singles. He drew just a pair of free passes and struck out 11 times with a 32.3% whiff rate. On the plus side, he instantly became one of the fastest players in baseball, with a 30.0 feet/second sprint speed.

Lawlar was a consensus top-15 prospect in baseball. Both Baseball America and FanGraphs ranked him among the top ten at #7 and #8 on each respective list, while MLB Pipeline placed him at #11 and Baseball Prospectus put him at #14. Lawlar was set to take the field at Triple-A Reno to start the year with a real chance of attaining the starting shortstop role in the Majors in the first half of the season.

It's an unfortunate blow to the Diamondbacks, as Lawlar isn't just the most exciting prospect in Arizona's farm system but one of the most exciting prospects in all of baseball. Lawlar should still get a chance at Major League playing time this year, as he's not projected to miss all of 2024. But it eliminates a potential option for the D-Backs and their infield if Perdomo struggles or if someone such as Ketel Marte or Eugenio Suarez gets hurt. Lawlar will likely head to the 60-day injured list ASAP, with Blaze Alexander, a prime candidate to take his roster spot for the time being.