Blue Jays – The postion players next in line for a promotion to the big league roster in 2024

Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
18 days ago
Yesterday afternoon, the Toronto Blue Jays reportedly firmed up their roster from a position player standpoint, with numerous Blue Jays beat journalists reporting that Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement, and non-roster invitee Daniel Vogelbach had all been informed that they had made the Opening Day roster. This announcement comes on the heels of the news that Brian Serven would also be on the active roster for the first game of the season, as Danny Jansen will not be ready to go for Opening Day due to a wrist injury he suffered just over a week ago that will have him sidelined to start the year.
With these recent announcements, the Blue Jays lineup appears to be set as Clement and Vogelbach fill out the bench to go alongside Kirk/Serven as the catching duo (until Jansen returns) and Schneider likely platooning with Biggio and working in left field on occasion. This gives the Jays 13 position players entering the season, which combined with 13 pitchers that have yet to be 100% confirmed given the multiple injury concerns, likely signals an end to the internal competitions at least from a position player standpoint.
That being said, it’s no secret that throughout the regular season, the Blue Jays will need to call down to triple-A for players to help fill in when injuries arise or players potentially get traded away. Last season, the Jays used 21 different players on the field throughout the year, a slight uptick from the 20 players the team used in total for 2022.
Let’s take a look at some of the players the Jays may call upon in 2024 who will start the season down in the Minor Leagues.
* denotes on the 40-man roster

Spencer Horwitz – 1B/LF*

One of the last cuts at training camp, Spencer Horwitz is one of the few on this list that has experience in the big leagues.
Last season, the left-handed batter suited up in 15 games and went 10 for 39 at the plate (.256) with two doubles, one home run, and seven RBIs. Horwitz has spent most of his career at first base but has experience in left field as well, which could help him to get back to the big leagues given the depth on the right side of the infield this year.
The additions of Vogelbach, Justin Turner, and Joey Votto this winter have put a bit of a logjam in playing time opportunities for the Radford alum but his bat could have him back in the big leagues in short order if Vogelbach struggles in his bench role early into the season.

Nathan Lukes – OF*

Similar to Horwitz, outfielder Nathan Lukes was one of the last cuts this go around and will start the year in triple-A. The left-handed batter made the Opening Day roster last year but played sparingly off the bench, collecting five hits through 26 at-bats while being mostly used as a late-game defensive replacement as well as riding the options bus throughout the campaign.
Lukes did everything he could this spring to put himself in a position to break camp, sporting a .450/.500/.600 slash line with four extra-base hits while walking six times compared to four strikeouts. Had it not been an equally impressive spring showcase from Ernie Clement, Lukes would have likely earned a spot on the Jays’ bench to start the campaign.
For now, he will return to Buffalo and likely be one of the first names called upon should an injury befall the big league roster, with the added bonus that he swings from the left side.

Orelvis Martinez – INF

The Blue Jays’ top position player prospect heading into the 2024 season, Orelvis Martinez will start the year in triple-A looking to continue building upon his resume as he continues to push for a spot in the big leagues.
Fans are already aware that the Dominican product can hit, collecting 28 home runs last season and 30 the year before while leading all Minor Leaguers since 2021, but the strikeouts have been the biggest factor in his game. He improved upon that stat last year (23.65% between double-A and triple-A) and if he continues to launch baseballs this season, he should be knocking on the big league door sooner rather than later.
On the field, the Jays have used Martinez on the left side of the infield early in his development but moved him to second base towards the end of last season, likely in an attempt to find him a route to the big leagues. With Isiah Kiner-Falefa the club’s starting third baseman, there is a potential opening for him at the hot corner although the Jays continued having him play second base this spring and will likely carry that over into the new season.

Addison Barger – INF/RF*

Last spring, Addison Barger was the talk of the town in Blue Jays camp. He posted a .294 average with six RBIs in 2023 and followed that up with an even more impressive spring camp this year, going 8 for 18 at the plate with a .444/.545/.611 slash line with a 1.156 OPS. He also launched a triple in the Spring Breakout game against the Yankees, one of the only hits for the Jays squad that day.
Last year, Barger was on track for a potential late-season call-up but missed all of May and a good chunk of June with an elbow injury. This season, Barger will be starting the campaign down in triple-A and similar to Martinez, his bat will be one of the main reasons that he finds a spot on the active roster.
A versatile athlete with a plus throwing arm, the organization had him splitting time at third base and right field in 2023. With the Jays lacking depth in the outfield compared to the middle infield spots, Barger slotting into right field could help him find a spot on the field moving forward and a route to the big leagues if he continues to showcase his plus bat.

Leo Jimenez – INF*

A product of Panama, Leo Jimenez has been working his way up the Minor League ladder since 2018 when he suited up for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in Rookie League ball.
Last year, Jimenez spent the majority of the season in double-A New Hampshire before being moved to Buffalo to finish out the year, struggling to adjust to the next level albeit with a small sample size (.191 average with 15 strikeouts through 63 at-bats). Jimenez didn’t have the strongest spring showing at the plate as well but it is his defensive ability that sets him apart, with scouts believing he has a long-term future at shortstop or second base at the big league level.
With some added muscle that saw him collect a career-high eight home runs last year, Jimenez has set himself up well for a potential call-up this year if he can string together some consistent at-bats to go along with his plus defence.

Damiano Palmegiani – INF

Last season, Damiano Palmegiani put himself on the map with his impressive showing at the plate.
Born in Venezuela but a product of Vauxhall Academy in southern Alberta, Palmegiani collected 23 home runs and 93 RBIs spread across two levels last year, finishing the campaign in triple-A. The right-handed batter then went to the Arizona Fall League where he added six more dingers and won the championship with the Surprise Saguaros, adding a highlight reel play at third base that was a mainstay clip on ESPN for weeks.
Looking ahead, the jury is still out on where the Jays will use Palmegiani in the future. He can play third base and first base and has really worked on his defensive play last year and this past offseason. His bat will likely be the reason we could see him later this year with the Blue Jays, especially if he continues to hit for power in triple-A, but it will be interesting to see where the Jays view him on the field over the long term.

Cam Eden – OF

When the Blue Jays needed some extra speed on the base paths to finish out the 2023 campaign, they called upon Cam Eden.
The speedy outfielder, who stole 53 bases and got caught only four times last season with Buffalo, was used mostly as a pinch runner during his time with the Jays but he did collect his first big league hit off the Tampa Bay Rays, a single to right field.
Should the Jays need another dedicated pinch-runner this season to come off the bench and play in the outfield when needed, Eden will be the top option.

Alan Roden – OF

It has been quite some time since the Blue Jays have developed an outfield prospect into a full-time outfielder at the big league level but #7 ranked Alan Roden could be the next player to buck that trend.
A third-round pick in 2022, Roden put on an impressive showing last season between high-A and double-A where he just continued to find ways to get on base. Between both levels, the left-handed batter authored a .317/.431/.459 slash line with a .890 OPS, walking more than he struck out at 68 free passes compared to 64 punch outs. He continuously found himself in deep counts all season long and added some power to his swing, collecting a career-high 10 home runs to go along with 68 RBIs. This spring, the 24-year-old posted a .875 OPS through 24 at-bats while adding two home runs and six RBIs against experienced opposing arms.
Roden spends most of his time in the corner outfield spots and has nine outfield assists already under his belt since his draft year. His bat and plate discipline should see him progress quickly in the system, with Roden likely to start the year in double-A. Should he continue to put the ball in play with regularity, he should see a quick promotion to Buffalo and could be on the radar for a late-season call-up when the rosters expand if the Jays are looking for some outfield depth on the bench.

Joey Votto – 1B/DH

Last but not least, one of the more popular signings this past offseason was Etobicoke, Ont. product Joey Votto. The veteran first baseman is playing for a team other than the Cincinnati Reds for the first time in his professional career and this could potentially be his last season of competitive baseball.
A late signing this spring, the odds were against Votto starting the season with Toronto as he competed with Vogelbach to be the left-handed bat off the bench for the Blue Jays. In his first at-bat with the Jays this spring, Votto launched a home run off the first pitch he saw from Phillies right-hander Zach Wheeler and then promptly rolled his ankle in the dugout, which has him listed as day-to-day and he has yet to have another at-bat this spring.
Nevertheless, Votto appears destined to start the year in the Minor Leagues and looking for an opportunity to work his way back to the Major Leagues. Injuries have hampered him the last two seasons but everybody is aware of what Votto can do at the plate when healthy, even at this stage of his career. Should he find the power bat in the minors, the veteran Canadian product could find his way on the Blue Jays roster at some point this season.

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