In 2018 and 2019, the Jays found three prospects chosen in the 20th round or later who could impact the major league roster in a few years. Vinny Capra went 20th in 2018 and Nick Fraze went 22nd in 2019. Two rounds later, the Jays drafted their 6th best prospect, Spencer Horwitz
Other than Horwitz, name me a Blue Jays first baseman in the system who could potentially back up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Personally, I can’t come up with one. I’ve written about Spencer before, mainly focusing on his 2021 season. However, I’ll go further in depth about his career as a whole.
As mentioned earlier, Horwitz, a left handed batter, was drafted in the 24th round of the 2019 draft. This could be because his college stats didn’t jump off the page. He slashed .288/.387/.850 in three seasons with Radford University. However, through his three years at the school, you notice a trend starts to appear.
In his freshman season, he walked 23 times and struck out 32 times in his 206 plate appearances. He followed that up with 34 a piece in his sophomore season in 2018. In his last season, his junior season, he walked 45 times while only striking out 29 times.
In his first professional season, he slashed .330/.395/.866 with three home runs with the FCL team. His BB% sat at 9.9% while his K% was slightly above that at 10.3%. Overall, it was a great debut season from the rookie as he posted a 139 wRC+. The caveat against this was the fact that as a 21-year-old, he was older than the average player in the rookie leagues.
He earned a brief spell with the Low A team, where he slashed .190/.227/.513 in 44 plate appearances, which isn’t great, but he did add a homer, so I have to include this.
Due to the global pandemic, Horwitz missed all of 2020. When the minor leagues returned in 2021, he was sent to Vancouver and had an incredibly productive season. In 469 plate appearances, the 23-year-old slashed .290/.401/.846 with 10 homers. Most impressively however, was the fact that he had a higher walk rate (14.9%) than strikeout rate (14.1%).
Per Baseball America, the Vancouver Canadians actually played their season at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro. They note that the field diminishes home runs by 30-40%. The dimensions of both right and left field are 325 feet from home plate, while the centre field wall is 400 feet from home plate. Here is a picture, courtesy of Hillsboro Government:
Spencer earned a promotion to Double A, where he slashed .375/.375/1.250 in a brief 16 plate appearances. However, this is of note as he hit two home runs in that time frame in the hitter friendly Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Horwitz was also the Jay standout playing in the Fall League. In 74 plate appearances, the first baseman slashed .375/.460/.944 and added a home run during his time there. He walked nine times and struck out 11 times. The 24-year-old also got 18 innings playing in left field to increase his versatility.
Out of the three position players sent to Mesa (Gabriel Moreno, Leonardo Jimenez), Spencer stood out the most. This is due in part to his age, but you can’t argue with the results!
What the scouts say:
According to Baseball America, he changed up his swing which lead to a successful 2021. His quick stroke allowed him to drive the ball to his pull side as he had multiple batted balls over 110 mph. Spencer also played some left field in the Arizona Fall League.
Sadly, there is no table for Spencer Horwitz.
Horwitz in 2022:
Unlike the prospects that came before him in this series, Horwitz doesn’t have a lot of faults. It’s arguable he has the best plate discipline in the Jays system and he has shown he can hit for power and average.
The next step for the 24-year-old first baseman is to continue his success at the next level, likely Double A. If he repeats his 2021, he’s in a great position to be added to the 40-man roster (rule 5 eligible in December 2022) by the end of the 2022 season. He’ll be on the Jays sooner rather than later.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. I didn’t mention it in this article, but Spencer also had a 27 game hit streak that raised his batting average from .235. I went more in depth in the first article. Take a guess who prospect #5 will be!