MLB Chatter Thread

armadillooutlaw

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 23, 2020
Messages
329
I'm all for selling the farm and starting completely over.
I'm having a change of mind about Gallo, honestly. He's become a high on base guy while getting back to hitting for power.
Young enough he should still be good when the team hopefully emerges from the rebuild in a couple of years.
 

Iamtdg

One-armed Knife Sharpener
Staff member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
91,145
The alchemy of Jordan Lawlar: Here’s what makes up the probable top-3 MLB draft pick
Jamey Newberg Apr 19, 2021

Little Elm High senior Logan Kohler took a 1-0 lead to the bottom of the seventh inning, three outs away from completing a one-hit shutout. Then the pitcher who had committed to the University of Oklahoma was two outs away after registering his sixth strikeout of the game to open the inning. The opposing three-hole hitter stepped in the box for his third at-bat. Kohler had fanned him the first two times.

With the count 2-1, the right-handed Kohler fired a front-door slider low and in. The right-handed hitter turned on the pitch and sent it over the fence in left field and halfway up the mesh screen behind it, tying and extending the game.

That hitter had committed to Vanderbilt a month earlier. He was only a high school sophomore.

It was also the first day Jesuit’s Jordan Lawlar had ever played a varsity baseball game.


The Texas Rangers have the second pick in this summer’s amateur draft and a huge decision to make. The common expectation for several months has been that Lawlar and Vanderbilt pitchers Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker will end up, in some order, with Pittsburgh, Texas and Detroit at the top of the draft. For Lawlar to be taken by his hometown Rangers, the Pirates would need to go in a different direction and Texas would need to determine that the 18-year-old is its player, based not on proximity or familiarity but rather on his ability to play and his capacity to grow.

High school players can be risky ventures to commit early picks to. More projection is required, with less track record against high-level competition to base it on. The Rangers have an opportunity to add a game-changing talent with a league-recommended signing bonus value of nearly $8 million. Since 2014, only one team has failed to sign a high school player (Carter Stewart, Braves/2018) taken in the first 10 picks. Texas cannot afford to be the second. The team that chooses Lawlar, unlike college options such as Leiter and Rocker, assumes that risk.

“Jordan has and will remain resolute in his commitment,” family advisor Greg Genske says. “Plan A, Plan B and Plan C is Vanderbilt.”
In a reversal of roles, it was the university that hyped Lawlar to the man who would coach him in high school. Brian Jones, the coach at Jesuit College Prep, remembers getting a phone call about Lawlar three years ago from Vanderbilt hitting coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Baxter. “I pretty much had to stop (Baxter) down mid-conversation and tell him, ‘We’re talking about a freshman, a guy I’ve never seen,’” Jones recalls. An administrative rule prevented Lawlar from playing for the varsity team in his first year at Jesuit since the Irving, Texas home where he and his mother lived wasn’t in the private school’s attendance zone. “The Vandy recruiter said, ‘Coach, I get it. I understand. But he’s going to be a special talent.’

“All I could say at the time was, ‘I look forward to meeting him!’”

Lawlar had put himself on the map before ever getting to Jesuit. He was one of four players singled out by Baseball America after his performance at the 2017 14U Perfect Game Select Baseball Festival in Fort Myers, Fla. Weeks later, he arrived at Jesuit, but not before hearing from TCU and Miami, and then Duke, Michigan, Stanford, LSU and Oklahoma about the idea of playing for their programs five years down the road. “That’s when everything kind of started,” Lawlar says.

One school stood out from the rest. “I’m very methodical in everything I do,” Lawlar says. “And Vanderbilt fit my personality.”

Most 15- and 16-year-olds are usually more concerned with their shoe game and the latest PlayStation release than they are about their college options. But as much as Lawlar stands out among high school baseball players, his approach toward his future was equally notable.
Genske has advised more than 100 first-round draft picks in his nearly 20 years in the business. “I’ve never had one like Jordan,” says Genske, who is also a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law. “He’s just the complete package of athleticism, baseball acumen, logical and emotional intelligence and high character.”

“I thought I was talking to a 22-, 23-year-old guy,” Baxter told Jones of the process of recruiting Lawlar before he was old enough to drive.
Lawlar, an only child, has been raised by his mother, Hope, in the same house his entire life. That’s about to change. He’ll be heading off to Nashville in August — if not to a minor-league outpost a month before that — to move into a stage of life that he’s dreamed about and prepared for.

Lawlar began to gravitate toward baseball at an early age. He is laid-back and unassuming (“I literally have never heard Jordan talk a single piece of trash in his life,“ says teammate and friend Gavin Perryman, who was also a longtime opponent of Lawlar’s on the showcase circuit), but at the same time, he’s doggedly honest. When asked if he would agree with the coaches, scouts and MLB club officials who say that baseball — the game of failure — just seems to come easy for him, his answer was direct.

“I‘d say, yeah, it does at times,” Lawlar says. “Obviously, when you’re struggling a little bit, it feels like: ‘Why is the world not working the way I want it to be?’ … But when things are going well, I feel like it just kinda flows. The swing works, the fielding works, the arm is accurate, everything’s on time.”

On Feb. 21, 2019, Opening Day for Jesuit’s team, the world wasn’t working the way Lawlar wanted, at least momentarily. Things went just fine for the sophomore in the first game of the team’s doubleheader — his first day with the varsity team — as he singled, walked twice, drove in two runs and stole a pair of bases. But in game two, he’d gone down swinging in the first inning and again in the fourth, outdone each time on a change-up from Kohler, the OU-bound senior. In between those two at-bats, the shortstop had also committed a throwing error. But when he got a third shot at Kohler in the seventh inning, two outs away from a 1-0 loss, everything was on time.

The 16-year-old hammered a Kohler breaking ball down the left-field line, tearing out of the box — he was already several strides past first base when the ball cleared the fence — and dashing around the bases.


Six weeks later came another impressive feat, this time in the face of Lawlar’s first major adversity as a ballplayer. During infield fungo drills before Jesuit’s game against the powerhouse Allen Eagles, he crunched his glove shoulder into the ground diving for a groundball up the middle. He knew something was wrong and couldn’t lift his shoulder the following day. Lawlar saw Dr. Keith Meister, a local orthopedic surgeon who treats baseball players from all over the country outside of his duties as Texas Rangers team physician, who determined Lawlar had suffered a partial dislocation of the shoulder.

The rehab process extended past Jesuit’s run in the 6A state playoffs that spring, which started with a series win over Sachse and ended with a crushing 2-1 walk-off loss in the deciding game of a best-of-three with Rockwall. Lawlar would have to wait another year to get his first taste of high school playoff baseball.

Only there would be no playoffs in 2020. After hitting .409/.534/.864 as a sophomore, Lawlar was off to a .485/.561/.848 start as a junior when, just nine days and 12 games into the season, the state first suspended and then canceled high school sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was tough,” says Lawlar, who wondered if the restrictions might carry over and impact his senior season as well. “And kind of scary. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. But I had faith … that we were going to get back out there.”

“I always tell Jordan: With adversity, great things can come,” his mother Hope says. “How do we turn this into a positive? He just allowed his love for the game to intensify during the shutdown. He spent that time making himself better as a person and as a baseball player.”
At first, Lawlar stood in as Jesuit’s senior pitchers looked to get in live batting practice reps in some local batting cages. But then, soon after the season had been unplugged, state lockdown orders closed access to the cages and the school grounds. The industrious Lawlar found ways to make the best of the situation. To turn it into a positive.

Toward the end of each day, Jordan and Hope worked out together at home. There were dumbbells and free weights, J-bands and medicine balls. A baseball glove and a trainer mitt. A bucket of balls.

And a living room couch.

“Mom would sit on the couch and flip me balls,” Lawlar recalls with a wide smile. “Right at me. Forehand. Backhand. On the knees: forehand, backhand.”

“It was tough!” says Hope, who played junior college basketball. “But we planned every day out. We wanted to do something each day to enhance his skills, even as limited as we were.”

Lawlar is seemingly always looking for ways to improve, inside the game and out. On the occasions when he has visited with Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell — a fellow Irving native and Jesuit graduate — they have talked less about hitting mechanics and the college/pro decision than about the mental aspects of the game. “(Then) it shifted away from baseball and we just talked about life and the kind of men we want to be,” Lawlar says.

Soon, Bell was sharing audiobooks with Lawlar, not one of which was about the game — at least on its face. There was Paulo Coelho’s novel, “The Alchemist,” which propounds the core philosophy that “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true;” Tim Ferriss’ “Tools of Titans,” which catalogs the “tactics, routines, and habits of billionaires, icons and world-class performers”; and Christian D. Larson’s “The Optimist Creed,” which urges a “promise (to) yourself … to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.”

Now before every pitch, Lawlar steps back, toeing the batter’s box chalk, and breathes. Deeply. He holds each end of his bat at belt level, motionless aside from an exhale as he stares across the plate.

“I’m really just trying to knock out everything around me,” Lawlar says of his pre-pitch routine. “All the sounds, all the noises. Sometimes it does get a little crazy. I try to cancel all that out and focus in on that at-bat.”

To be so strong that nothing can disturb his peace of mind. To really want what, more often than not, is about to happen.



(Courtesy of Elaine Payne)

Since Jesuit resumed play this season, it has won 25 of its 29 games, most by comfortable margins. But for Lawlar, staying locked in on every at-bat, every pitch, is a priority. “Don’t give up at-bats,” he says. “You don’t want to look back and wish you would have worked a little harder. I feel like I’m just blessed to play this sport … You never know when it will end. I could see that my sophomore year (after the shoulder injury). I just value the game. I value every at-bat, every inning. I don’t take it for granted.”

It’s a mentality that guides Lawlar in the classroom, as well. A high achiever, he has raised his GPA this year while taking a heavy load of AP classes. One B+ (in Trigonometry/Algebra II) mars an otherwise spotless string of A’s over his four years at the school. The material that has gripped him the most is in macroeconomics, so much so that he’s already planning to focus his studies there at Vanderbilt.

For a 16-year-old ballplayer to have the opportunity midway through his sophomore year to commit to an academically rigorous university and play for a powerhouse baseball program, it would have been normal to be overwhelmed. “I would like to say I was, but I really wasn’t,” Lawlar insists. “I felt like I was ready for it. I felt like I was talented enough. It felt like that’s where I needed to be. I’m just happy I found that place where I felt the most comfortable.”

Lawlar’s motivation to choose Vanderbilt that early on was inspired, in part, by his mother. “(She) spoke a lot about making sure I picked a school that, if I wasn’t able to play baseball, I’d be comfortable at.” But make no mistake: The strength of the Commodores baseball program — which was on its way to a national championship the year Lawlar committed to the program — was a key factor as well. “Academics (were important), of course,” he says. “But it was also about the competitive nature there. They can win.”


Once COVID-19 restrictions began to lift in Texas late in the spring of 2020, it was too late to revive the high school season. Lawlar instead turned his focus to the summer’s showcase circuit, a series of events nationwide where the best incoming high school seniors in the country gather to compete. At the Perfect Game National Showcase in mid-June in Alabama, Lawlar was singled out by MLB.com as the five-day tournament’s top infielder. Later, at the Perfect Game All-American Classic in Oklahoma City in September, Lawlar was named the Jackie Robinson Player of the Year, an award won in previous years by Bryce Harper, Justin Upton and Lance McCullers Jr. The following month, Lawlar put on a show at the Under Armour Baseball Factory All-Star Classic.


Lawlar’s monster summer and fall catapulted his projections as a draft prospect, which — especially under the circumstances — was no surprise to one of his baseball mentors. “For a young man already highly thought of like Jordan was to show up (after the shutdown) fully prepared and stand out, it opened lots of eyes,” says Vernon Wells, one of only seven Texas high schoolers taken in the top five picks in the past 24 MLB drafts. Lawlar stands to be the eighth.

Early in 2020, shortly before Lawlar’s junior season, he connected with Wells, now an advisor with the baseball arm of the VaynerSports agency led by Genske, Wells’ former agent.

Quickly the conversations Lawlar had with Wells moved away from load, stride and timing. “We started breaking things down at a higher level, talking the game at a higher level … asking why he’s thinking certain things in certain situations,” says the three-time All-Star and veteran of 15 seasons in the big leagues. “The game comes easy and natural for Jordan. But the small things show me he’s fully aware of everything going on on the baseball field.”

The two players Lawlar looks up to the most are Derek Jeter (“the way he carried himself … I’ve never heard anything bad said about him, and obviously what he did on the field speaks for itself”) and Carlos Correa (“his hitting tool: nice and easy, picks his foot up, hands separate a little bit, just throws his hands at it, and it goes”), whose build and skill set scouts and publications have been comparing to Lawlar’s. “He’s a perfect mix of those,” says Wells, who adds that he sees a little Michael Young in Lawlar, as well.

For Jesuit coach Jones, the signature moments from Lawlar’s high school career include one that happened when he wasn’t even in the game. After the Rangers had jumped out to a big lead in a game early this season, Jones pulled Lawlar so his backup at shortstop could get some playing time. “We’re just a high school and don’t have fans chasing foul balls,” Jones explains. “I look up after Jordan has come out of the game, and (there’s) a potential top-five pick, out shagging foul balls. … That says a lot about his character.”

Lawlar lists Wells, Jones and other coaches among the people who have shaped him most as a ballplayer. But they trail the hands-down leader in that category. “My mom has been huge,” says Lawlar — and just about everyone else who knows him well — and it’s about far more than the living room drills. “She’s really big about the classroom and always remembering that one action can really taint your whole legacy — so being really mindful of who you are and how you make people feel. That’s what’s biggest for her and it’s also big for me.”



Hope and Jordan, April 2021. (Courtesy of Elaine Payne)

“The thing I’m most proud of is that Jordan leads with that quiet, commanding authority that he has,” Hope says. “It’s important to me that he’s a great person and a great teammate. I’ve always told him, ‘You are out there representing the name on the back (of your jersey) as well as the name on the front.'”

As the 2020 showcase circuit was drawing to a close, Lawlar set up Zoom visits with dozens of major-league club officials. Not with his mother, his coaches, or any advisors. Lawlar handled the sessions alone, his own version of the Winter Meetings. “I met with just about all the clubs,” Lawlar recalls. “It was fun to let them understand me on a little bit of a deeper level.”

Around that time, the 2021 mock drafts started rolling out, with nearly every one of them slotting Lawlar as the first high school player taken. There had been a handful of scouts at his high school games in 2020 before the shutdown, but nothing like what awaited him in 2021.

“When we had our first scrimmage back in February, I went to (our athletic director) and told him, ‘Hey, we’re probably gonna have 10 to a dozen scouts here,’” recalls Jones. “We show up for batting practice and Jordan is in the cage — and I look over and there’s 27 organizations there watching this kid hit soft-toss.

“I’m thinking, ‘Oh, wow. We’ve turned a page now.’”

Jones and the rest of Lawlar’s camp focused on helping him navigate the heightened attention and scrutiny and noise. Jones draws on the experience he had in previous years with high-profile draft candidates at Jesuit such as Bell and Braves pitcher Kyle Muller. “’How can I help him and be a wall between tons of interview requests and the scouts and things along those lines?’” Jones asked himself. “That’s part of my role, too, to be able to look out for him and make sure he gets to be a high school kid.”

The blanket attention from scouts and club officials and media hasn’t thrown off Lawlar. “You just have to get used to it,” he says. “Obviously, it changes a lot of things. You don’t have as much (free) time as you used to. But really it’s a blessing. I know all (my teammates) would love to be in the position I’m in.”

The highlight of Lawlar’s senior season — and of his baseball career to this point, if you ask him — came on a Friday night, March 12. It was the start of spring break, and Jesuit’s second game of the day was at Dr Pepper Ballpark, home of the Frisco RoughRiders, the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate.

With Liberty leading, 5-4, in the bottom of the seventh, the Rangers were down to their final out. Lawlar started from the on-deck circle — until he saw Liberty’s coach step out of the visitors’ dugout.

“I saw their coach come out to change pitchers,” Lawlar recalls. “And I said, ‘All right.’”

Cade McGarrh, who has committed to Texas Tech, was coming in to get the final out.

He started Lawlar off with a fastball low and away for strike one. He then buried a curveball in the dirt, and Lawlar didn’t bite. McGarrh came back with another curve. Lawlar was ready.

“He put it right there for me,” Lawlar says of the center-cut, hanging breaking ball. “And I just reacted to it, hit the switch and didn’t even feel it come off the bat. Then I just watched it fly over the shed.” The ball traveled 420 feet to straightaway left for a 6-5 Jesuit victory and the first walk-off home run of Lawlar’s life.


Since then, the groups of people coming to games solely to see Lawlar play and project his future have dwindled. Maybe some organizations had decided that they’d seen all they needed to see. Perhaps others figured their scouts would be better off deployed elsewhere, seeing high school and college players their clubs would actually have a shot at in July.

Unless the Pirates take it away, the Rangers will have a chance at Lawlar. “It would be a blessing to play here,” he admits. “But obviously, I’m focused on high school and then Vanderbilt.”

Though it wouldn’t fit in with his academic goals, Lawlar would be able to re-enter the draft after just two years in college, based on his date of birth, unless the next Collective Bargaining Agreement changes the rules on draft-eligible sophomores. If he were to turn pro right around his 21st birthday, with two years of the competitive environment that Vanderbilt plays in, would he be just as close to the major leagues as he would be forgoing college and getting his professional career underway this summer? If you ask Lawlar the question today, all signs point to Nashville.

But the truth is, when asked about the college versus pro conundrum, Lawlar treats it as an issue he’ll deal with in the future. For now, the focus is on helping get Jesuit to the postseason and to finally experience high school playoffs between the lines — for the first and last time. “I can’t really tell what that will feel like until I do it,” Lawlar says. “I’m just excited to have that opportunity.”



(Courtesy of Elaine Payne)

One of the central tenets of macroeconomics is long-term growth. For Lawlar, the blueprint for long-term growth includes a long career in the major leagues, with World Series titles and a place in the Hall of Fame. Though those are all part of the plan, there’s more. Before pro ball, there’s high school graduation and a deep run in the state playoffs, a Vanderbilt degree and a successful run on the baseball field with the Commodores. And after his playing days? The vision is just as clear. “Just try to make the world a better place,” says the 18-year-old. “Try to bring light to people’s worlds, use what I have to better things.”

It’s a reflection, as so many things are about Jordan Lawlar, of his mother and the things she wants for her son. “My wish for Jordan and what baseball gives him,” Hope says, “is that he’s able to use that platform to help people and to be an example for others.”


Jesuit had won 10 of 11 games, riding a six-game win streak once District 7-6A play got underway late in March. Lawlar had come alive over that time, hitting .560 over 25 at-bats, driving in 15 runs and stealing nine bases — raising his high school total to a perfect 35 steals in 35 attempts.

Irving MacArthur’s leadoff hitter started the game by bouncing a grounder in the hole. Lawlar ranged to his right, gathered the ball with an outstretched backhand and, in one motion, fired sidearm across his body on the run, throwing out the batter by a full step.

When it was Lawlar’s turn to bat in the bottom of the inning, on the first pitch he saw, he shot a groundball to the left side and bolted out of the box. MacArthur’s shortstop didn’t field the ball cleanly but still had a play. Lawlar beat the throw, which the first baseman caught atop the bag rather than out in front of it. Lawlar’s left quadriceps struck the first baseman’s backside, sending Lawlar into a hard tumble over the bag and to the ground.

He didn’t get up right away. The pall in the ballpark was striking, silent and stark.

A few minutes later, Lawlar stood and shuffled around a little, flexing and extending his left leg to test it out. The silence persisted until, with a word, the best high school player in the country sent his coach and trainer back to the dugout and returned to the bag himself.
On the first pitch to the Rangers’ cleanup hitter, Lawlar took off. His jump was so good that the catcher, perhaps duped by the calm demeanor of a player whose apparent leg injury had just threatened to end his night, could only hold onto the ball as Lawlar swiped second, extending his perfect rate before boosting it to 37 steals in 37 tries moments later on a dash for third.

From the crowd, Vernon Wells thought about the small things that separate his young protege.

Also in the stands, Hope Lawlar thought to herself: With adversity, great things can come … how do we turn this into a positive?
In the third-base coaching box, Brian Jones was done marveling at moments like the one he’d just witnessed from his star shortstop.
Stepping out to his lead off third, Jordan Lawlar, methodical in everything he does, took a deep breath and knocked out all the noise. He wasn’t thinking about Vanderbilt, and he certainly wasn’t thinking about pro ball. He was thinking, singularly and with unshakable focus, about the next 90 feet.
 

Rev

Good, bad, I'm the guy with the gun
Staff member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
13,628
Happy with passing on the shortstop as well as picking Leiter. Now just hope the rumor that he won't sign because he wants to play in Boston is false.
 

Smitty

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 7, 2013
Messages
18,996
Cleveland will now be the "Guardians"? Are you kidding me? :lol
Terrible.

The sports world is crumbling.

I hope all the women and gay men they are pandering to with this nonsense is going to fill the void when they drive away all the regular warm blooded beer drinking pro-America males.
 
Top Bottom