Blue Jays – Barger gets first crack at the big leagues from a talented Buffalo Bisons core

Photo credit:© Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
1 month ago
Earlier this week, the Toronto Blue Jays dipped into their prospect pool and called up Addison Barger from triple-A with centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier landing on the injured list with a left hip injury.
Barger created a lot of noise last spring, with the athletic infielder/outfielder putting on a strong display of what he could do at the plate and on the field with his plus arm but injuries limited him to just 94 games as he mustered .745 OPS while spending most of the season in triple-A.
Fast forward to this season and Barger has been posting the stats that the Blue Jays front office was hoping for when he returned to Buffalo to start the year.
Before his callup, the left-handed hitting Washington product owned a .314/.435/.586 slash line with three home runs, a 1.021 OPS, and at the time a team leading 21 RBIs while also adding 10 doubles into the mix. That power hasn’t translated into the big leagues yet for Barger, who is still searching for his first big league hit through three games, but the raw talent is noticeably present as the Jays have him playing across the field, including a stint in left field (which he had never played professionally). He’s hit the ball well at times but just hasn’t been able to buy a hit just yet.
Barger is just one of the numerous talented bats who started the year in triple-A for the Blue Jays, with the Bisons boasting a few more players who could make an impact at the big league level within the near future.
Leading off with regularilty for the Bisons, first baseman Spencer Horwitz continues to produce at the plate.
Prior to today’s contest against Iowa, the left-handed hitting prospect owned a .354/.510/.494 slash line while walking more than he struck out (25 vs. 14 respectively). Horwitz had eight doubles on the year to go with his one home run and 15 RBIs, boasting a 1.003 OPS as well. He is one of the lone Bisons on the squad with MLB experience, as he played in 15 games for the Blue Jays last year while riding the options bus and posted a .726 OPS with 1o hits through 39 at-bats (.256).
Also down in Buffalo is one of the organization’s top prospects in infielder Orelvis Martinez. The Dominican product has been a mainstay on the Blue Jays top prospect list since being signed in 2018 and this year, the second baseman has been dominating opposing pitchers at the plate.
Through 22 games (not including Saturday’s contest against Iowa), Martinez owns a .307/.365/.636 slash line with a team leading seven home runs and now 22 RBIs. He also owns a 1.001 OPS and boasts numerous balls hit above the 100 MPH mark, which includes a recent streak that has seen the righty batter collect all of his homers dating back to April 14th, an 11 game span.
Martinez has posted three or more RBIs on five different occasions and fans have been clamouring for the Blue Jays to call up his electric bat admist the clubs recent run woes. For Martinez, his biggest crutch is his defensive miscues, as he has committed seven errors at second base this season and it appears the Jays want to see some more consistency on both side of the ball before a big league promotion.
Overall, it is Barger who is getting the first crack at bridging the gap from triple-A to the big leagues and the jury is still out on whether that promotion will be permanent once Kiermaier is healthy and ready to go.
Considering the Jays boast numerous players who can play multiple positions in Davis Schneider, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Ernie Clement, and Cavan Biggio, there is not a ton of playing time to go around for some of the prospect talent and it is tough to see the front office calling up someone like Martinez just for him to sit on the bench or not play with consistency day in and day out. Dropping Daniel Vogelbach is an option for creating roster space but the dilemma still exists to regular playing time when it comes to IKF, Clement, Biggio, and Schneider without another transaction in place.
On the flip side, the Blue Jays need run support like none other. The Jays squad hasn’t scored more than five runs in a single game since April 6th and ranked 21st in OPS (.670) at the time of writing. Multiple key players are struggling to find a groove at the plate and a majority of the team owns a sub-.800 OPS, including the likes of George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Alejandro Kirk.
While the arguement that the season is still within its first month is valid, and there is time for growth and figuring things out, a stacked AL East division doesn’t allow room for error, regardless of what time of the year it is.
The Jays playoff chances were in limbo heading into the 2023 postseason and one of the main reasons they secured a spot was because of how the AL West finished out with the Astros, Rangers, and Mariners. To avoid a similar fate, the Blue Jays will need to turn things around at the plate and find some offense with consistency in a hurry, whether that is through promoting talent like Horwitz or Martinez or a change in direction in regards to hitting philosphy.
For now, Martinez likely will be contained to the Minor Leagues for a few more weeks before an eventual promotion, as the Jays will need his plus power sooner rather than later if the trend at the plate continues.
That may come at the expense of Barger’s spot on the roster in the short term but the Jays may need to make some interesting decisions in the near future given their abundance of utility type players (barring an injury), as the Blue Jays need some offensive production if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive and not fall behind early into the campaign.

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