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It’s time to call Spencer Horwitz’s bat up, concerns about playing time aside

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Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
It’s time for another edition of “Call Him Up”.
As you may know, the Buffalo Bisons are loaded to the brim with MLB-ready prospects. One such player, Addison Barger, has already been called up. Despite a rough start to his big league career with less than 20 plate appearances, Barger has already showcased his tremendous arm and defensive ability at third base. The bat will likely come around.
Orelvis Martinez, the prospect we looked at last time, is slashing .310/.367/.630 with an organization-leading eight homer runs in 109 plate appearances for a 149 wRC+. It may be a tad bit early to call him up, but with the lack of power on the Jays, he certainly deserves an opportunity.
The player we’re going to look at doesn’t have the same power numbers, but instead has one of the best eyes in the organization as well as one of the best hit tools. It’s time to call Spencer Horwitz up.

Spencer Horwitz’s 2024

As per usual, the 26-year-old is tearing up the level he’s at. In 117 plate appearances this season for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, Horwitz is slashing .348/.487/.489 with a home run and 10 doubles. On top of that, he has a higher BB% (21.4%) than K% (13.7%).
This is a pretty common place for Horwitz. Last season with Buffalo, he slashed .337/.450/.495 with 10 homers and a 16.1 BB% compared to a 14.9 K% for a 144 wRC+. In Double-A with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2022, he slashed .297/.413/.517 with a 15.3 BB% and a 19.2 K% and a 154 wRC+.
The season prior, Horwitz broke the Northwest League record for most consecutive games with a hit, doing so in 27 straight games. In total, he slashed .290/.401/.445 with 10 home runs in 469 plate appearances, and once again had a higher BB% (14.9%) than K% (14.1%).
There was only one season at one level where Horwitz wasn’t a significantly above average hitter, that was in 2022 when he was called up to the Bisons. In 202 plate appearances, he slashed .246/.361/.363 with two homers in 202 plate appearances for a low (by his standards) 101 wRC+.
This illustrates that Horwitz can do this at any level, at least in the minor leagues. Will it continue into the big leagues? Maybe, but he needs playing time to determine that. Speaking of which…

The pathway for Horwitz to get playing time

Spencer Horwitz’s bat is certainly good enough that it should be in the lineup, at least in a platoon role. However, that is a bit of a difficulty considering how the roster is currently constructed.
First base is occupied by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., there’s really no way of putting it, but Horwitz will never win the starting first baseman job from Vlad unless he’s gone. You think the designated hitter role may be available, but Justin Turner has started 22 games at the position while starting just five games between third base and first base.
That leaves two options for Horwitz. Either he replaces Daniel Vogelbach as the bench bat, or he starts to play more left field.
Starting with the latter option, it appeared that was the direction the Jays and Horwitz were going in 2023, as he started 24 games in left field and played 200.2 innings there in Triple-A. It’s true he played more first base, starting 64 games and appearing in 68 games while accumulating 553.1 innings at his natural position, but left field seemed like an option.
The organization has a tendency to play second basemen and other infielders in the outfield, such as Davis Schneider, Cavan Biggio, and Addison Barger. However, the Bisons now have three natural outfielders on the roster, Nathan Lukes, Steward Berroa, and Will Robertson, while also having better defensive utility players such as Rafael Lantigua.
This has led Horwitz to play the majority of the season at first base, as he’s started 17 games and appeared in 18 games at first base, or 144 innings. In left field, he’s only played a game, and it wasn’t even a full game, as he played seven innings out there.
He’s not a great defensive outfielder by any means, but if he can translate his Triple-A bat to even half of what it is in the big leagues, subpar defence can be accepted.
The other option is less ideal, and that’s designating Daniel Vogelbach for assignment and calling up Horwitz to play that role. That has its own set of problems, as Vogelbach has only started five games and has 27 plate appearances in the team’s 32 games this season.
Horwitz would likely have more playing time, but he’d benefit from playing everyday, which doesn’t seem possible if he were to replace Vogelbach’s role as a designated hitter/pinch hitter.
At some point, the Blue Jays will need to make a decision, as his bat is clearly good enough to be on a big league bench, but it’s finding him a spot on the team that is proving to be challenging.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Ryley_L_D.

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