Matt Lawton in younger days
Matt Lawton was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round in 1991, from Gulf Coast Community College. Making his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League in '92, Lawton hit .260/.365/.376 with 20 steals, showing speed and good on-base ability but not a lot of power. A retrospective grade would be C.
Moved up to Fort Wayne in the Midwest League in '93, Lawton hit .285/.405/.444 with 23 steals. He drew 65 walks with only 42 strikeouts, showing very sound strike zone judgment, and also stole 23 bases. He improved his power output considerably compared to rookie ball. At 21, he was neither too young nor too old for the league, being equivalent to a college junior. His leadoff ability was impressive, and retrospectively I think he would likely have earned a Grade B- or Grade B from me.
Up to the Florida State League in '94, Lawton continued to improve, hitting .300/.412/.419 with 42 steals. He continued to control the strike zone, with 80 walks against 64 strikeouts. Although he hit just 7 homers, he knocked 30 doubles, and overall was very impressive considering the pro-pitching park/league context. Eddie Epstein gave him a Grade B- in the '95 Minor League Scouting Notebook.
At Double-A New Britain in '95, Lawton hit .269/.363/.434 with 26 steals. He boosted his home run total to 13, continued to control the strike zone (56 walks, 70 strikeouts in 412 at-bats), and did it in a difficult park/league context. He also hit .317 in 21 games for the Twins at the end of the year. I gave him a Grade B+ and rated him the number 29 prospect in the game in the '96 book.
Lawton split '96 between Triple-A and the Majors, then got regular playing time beginning in 1997. He's had a solid career, one of the better "secondary average" players around, contributing lots of walks, steals, and power. His Major League career is exactly in line with his minor league performance; he developed along nearly textbook lines.
Comparable Players to Matt Lawton (based on Sim Score and PECOTA, no active players listed)
Next Player for Retrospective: Russ Branyan