Spencer Horwitz is hitting his way into contention for a call-up to the Blue Jays roster
6 months ago
To begin the year, there was a battle brewing in spring training for the last bench spot on the Blue Jays’ active roster.
Prospects Addison Barger and Otto López were turning heads both in camp and at the World Baseball Classic for López but the bench spot would eventually go to outfielder Nathan Lukes, who was a career minor leaguer up until this season. While the likes of Barger and López were in the mix and the favourites alongside Lukes, one other player was making some noise early in spring training, first baseman Spencer Horwitz.
Although Horwitz experienced big league camp last season, the lefty-batter found himself back up with the Blue Jays this past March and suited up in eight games for the club, posting a .333 average with two RBIs and one walk while striking out just three times. He would be optioned back to Triple-A midway through the month but at the time, Horwitz was representing Team Israel at the World Baseball Classic, suiting up in each of their four games and going 2 for 11 at the plate while striking out seven times and adding one RBI.
Blue Jays prospect Spencer Horwitz continues to keep putting the ball in play in Triple-A
After spring training, Horwitz joined the Buffalo Bisons and works as their primary first baseman, slotting in as the designated hitter and left fielder as necessary as well. To start the year, the Radford University alum got off to a slow start in the box, crafting a .220 average and a .701 OPS through his first 15 games but keeping a sharp eye at the plate, walking 11 times compared to 14 strikeouts. Since April 22nd however, Horwitz has seen a spectacular resurgence, going 26 for 65 (.400) with seven doubles, one home run, and 19 RBIs while posting a 1.060 OPS through his past 17 games.
With his impressive run as of late, Horwitz owns a .322/.451/.452 slash line through 32 games and has 13 extra-base hits on the year to the tune of a .904 OPS with his .451 OBP leading the Bisons squad. His 20 RBIs currently sit second behind Ernie Clement while Horwitz also leads the team in terms of walks with 26 free passes on the year compared to 30 strikeouts. Defensively, the Maryland product has a clean sheet at first base and even has an outfield assist on his record through just four appearances in left field.
There is no doubt that Horwitz is currently on a hot streak right now and when you look at the Blue Jays roster, it might be difficult to see where the 25-year-old fits into the big league picture. The club is currently running with Lukes, Santiago Espinal, Cavan Biggio, and Brandon Belt rotating on the bench and in the field, and considering Belt covers the same positions as Horwitz (1B and DH), it would be tough to see the club moving on from the veteran infielder who also bats from the left side (at least right now). Alternatively, the club could move Espinal or Biggio down to Triple-A as both players have Minor League options at their disposal, as well as both players aren’t exactly having strong starts to the year.
Espinal has struggled mightily in the box, crafting a .175 average while seeing a decrease in playing time with Whit Merrifield playing well, as the Dominican product does have 15 games at second base under his belt but has also worked as the backup shortstop and third baseman this season. Biggio is following suit albeit in different positions, as the lefty-batter has just eight hits this season, although two of them have been home runs. Defensively, the former Notre Dame product has split his time at second and in right field, with a couple of outings at first base mixed in between, also seeing a decrease in playing time with Merrifield finding ways to get on base this season while playing the same positions as Biggio (and more). Both Espinal and Biggio can cover more positions on the diamond compared to Horwitz, which is a benefit the Jays will likely look to keep on the bench, but should an injury arise to one of the position players on the squad, the lefty-batter is certainly one name who will be considered for some time on the active roster.
Should the Blue Jays be looking for an additional spark from the left side, the Jays’ #18 ranked prospect Spencer Horwitz is one player who is currently hitting himself into contention for a promotion sometime this season if he can keep putting the ball in play. While his positional fit might not make the most sense at the moment, it will be tough to keep him down in the minors if he continues getting on base and considering the Jays are in the mix of a strong AL East division, the club needs as many runs as they can this season.
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