The 2021 MLB Draft begins on July 11, 2021, and unlike in 2020, this will be a twenty round draft — shorter than the forty rounds the draft has been in the most recent years prior to 2020, but longer than last year’s five round version. The Rangers’ top three picks are at #2, #38, and #73.
In the coming days, we will be doing write-ups of potential Texas Ranger draft picks, looking both at players who are in the mix at #2 and players who would be candidates to be picked in the second or third rounds. Today we are looking at Dallas Jesuit shortstop Jordan Lawlar.
Jordan Lawlar is a 6’2”, righthanded hitting shortstop out of Dallas Jesuit high school, and is variously listed at anywhere from 170 lbs to 190 lbs. He’s committed to Vanderbilt. Y’all have probably heard of him before.
Lawlar is a well rounded prospect with no real glaring weaknesses. His hit tool gets solid marks, and though there were some concerns voiced early in the spring about the amount of swing-and-miss he was showing, he largely put that issue to rest as the season went on — BA notes he struck out just once in his final 55 plate appearances. There are differing projections on his power projection, with some folks seeming him as having average power long term, while others think he can be a 60 power guy as he gets old.
Unlike a lot of prep shortstops who have strong offensive games, Lawlar is expected to likely stick at shortstop long term. He’s not an elite defender but he’s got the arm and glove to stay at the position. He also has very good but not elite speed, and gets quality marks for makeup.
To the extent that there are knocks on Lawlar, his lack of one particularly loud carrying tool gets pointed to a lot, and among Rangers fans, that has invoked comparisons to Jurickson Profar. He’s seen as having less power potential than fellow prep shortstops Kahlil Watson and Marcelo Mayer, which limits the upside some, and since he is about to turn 19, he’s a little older than most high school draftees.
Baseball America has Lawlar at #1 on their current top 500 draft list. MLB Pipeline has Lawlar at #3 on their board. Over at ESPN Kiley McDaniel has Lawlar at #1 on his current board. Fangraphs has Lawlar ranked #5 on their board. Keith Law has Lawlar at #2 on his list.
I’m not going through all the mock drafts and where they have Lawlar. He’s in the top tier of players in the draft. The Kansas City Royals at #7 are generally considered his floor, he’s still apparently a consideration for the Pittsburgh Pirates and #1, and he could go anywhere from 1 to 7.
The one potential wrinkle here is that Lawlar has spoken publicly about his firm commitment to Vanderbilt. Now, lots of prep players make such pronouncements, and sometimes players pass on the money and go to school — Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, for example, would have been first round picks but for their firm commitment to Vanderbilt. But players who go in the top ten in the draft generally sign.
That said, if Lawlar is firm on his number, and if that number is a top five slot signing bonus, and he’s clear he’s going to Vandy if he doesn’t get that, he could well go undrafted. Given how bunched together the top tier of talent in this draft is, and given how teams are most likely going to be using that lack of clear separation to cut deals at the top of the draft, Lawlar could drop. I don’t expect that to happen — I expect he gets picked somewhere in the top seven picks and signs — but it is a possibility.
I feel kind of silly doing a full blown write-up on Lawlar, given how much he has been discussed here already. I feel like everyone already knows about him. Lawlar is one of four players the Rangers have consistently been linked to, along with Jack Leiter, Kahlil Watson, and Marcelo Mayer. He’s a local guy who invokes comparisons to Bobby Witt, Jr., who went second a couple of years ago, though he’s not as toolsed-up as Witt was. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he were the pick for Texas.