Spencer Horwitz Is a Blue Jays Prospect You Need to Know

Blue Jays prospect Spencer Horwitz is tearing it up down in Triple-A this year. He's one of the best prospects nobody's talking about.

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 4: Spencer Horwitz #48 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on September 4, 2023 in Oakland, California. The Blue Jays defeated the Athletics 6-5. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)

Down in Triple-A for the Toronto Blue Jays‘ Buffalo Bisons, 26-year-old Spencer Horwitz has been carving up the opposition. In the grand scheme of things, Horwitz has flown under the radar this year despite the fact that he owns one of the best stat lines in the minor leagues.

Last year, he debuted in the big leagues and got into the first 15 games of his career at the game’s highest level. He hit his first home run and drove in seven runs while posting a .726 OPS and 102 OPS+. Horwitz didn’t blow anybody away with this output, but it was surely enough of an introduction to followers of the Blue Jays.

As the Blue Jays battle to remain even close to contention, fans of the team have been obsessively calling for Horwitz to be called back up to the big leagues. It’s hard to blame them, as they’ve been forced to watch the vast majority of their team’s lineup fall flat on a nightly basis.

This year, he’s not content with continuing his development down in Triple-A. Horwitz, a first baseman by trade, has taken up second base while seeing an occasional spot start in left field. The Blue Jays are putting his positional versatility to the test as they try and do what they can to insert him into their big league lineup.

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Spencer Horwitz Is Lighting Up the International League

Through 56 games this year for the Bisons, Horwitz has been incredible at the dish. He’s only got four home runs, something the Blue Jays are actively working on with him, but he’s driven in 38 runs, scored 41 of them, walking more than he strikes out and currently sporting a wRC+ of 157.

ZiPS and STEAMER predicted 113 and 119 wRC+ out of Horwitz, respectively, before the season began. So far, he’s blowing right past that mark.

One of the things he does best is pick good pitches to swing at. He’s got a 6.4 SwStr% entering the day, which would put him in the top-20 in the big leagues, near the likes of Jeff McNeil, Nico Hoerner and Jose Ramirez, all of whom are regarded as smart, patient hitters.

When put up against the other top players in the International League such as James Wood, Heston Kjerstad and Connor Norby, you’ll see Horwitz has been at or near the top in most statistical categories.

Rank (Amongst Qualified International League Players)

Most of the other names around him on these leaderboards are the likes of Wood, Kjerstad and big league veterans on minor league contracts (i.e David Dahl, Jonah Bride, Ben Gamel and Trayce Thompson).

Seeing the names around Horwitz on such leaderboards would typically mean that he’s a highly-touted prospect like the others. However, he did not even crack Just Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects update and is not featured in MLB Pipeline’s either. It seems that Horwitz is the best prospect that nobody is talking about. In fairness, this likely has a lot to do with his age. At 26, he’s not exactly a young buck just starting his professional career.

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Why Is He Not in the Big Leagues?

To most followers of the Blue Jays, the answer to this would be “who knows!”, but there are a few things keeping Horwitz down in Triple-A, although the validity of these reasons gets less and less relevant by the day.

Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins recently spoke to the media and said that Horwitz and Orelvis Martinez are being kept in the minor leagues longer to get every day at-bats. This makes sense, especially in Martinez’s case, as he’s only 22-years old and is still raw. For Horwitz, he may not have an immediate avenue to every day at-bats in the big leagues. However, adding second base to his defensive repertoire is going to force the Blue Jays’ hand.

Another reason is the lack of flexibility on the current Blue Jays roster. Daniel Vogelbach is another left-handed hitter who fills a fairly similar role to the one Horwitz would. Vogelbach can’t be freely optioned to the minors and has been swinging a slightly better bat as of late, which makes outright cutting him a bit more complicated.

Even if Horwitz comes up and plays his fair share of second base, he’s going to boot somebody off of the 40-man roster. Ernie Clement is faster and more versatile but he’s also out of options. Elsewhere on the roster, Cavan Biggio just recently hit five years of big league service time, so technically he can reject an assignment to Triple-A.

The Blue Jays may be more inclined to cut bait with Clement since they’re desperately trying to cling to the fringes of the AL Wild Card race. He became a popular player for the Jays last year, but underperformance is going to lead to shorter leashes, especially this season.

Moves May Be Coming

Don’t sleep on the fact that the Blue Jays are suddenly giving Vladimir Guerrero Jr. occasional starts at third base, a position he hadn’t previously started a game at since 2019. Moving him to the hot corner, even if it’s once or twice a week, opens up first base for someone like Horwitz to find some at-bats.

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The Blue Jays went with the Vladdy at 3B experiment to try and give more at-bats to offense-oriented hitters. This means Vogelbach and Justin Turner, both of whom barely qualify as helpful offensive contributors.

There have been some rumblings around the Blue Jays that Horwitz could be joining the club for their upcoming series in Oakland. Should this come to be, it’d likely be Clement being designated for assignment, at least according to Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith.

It’s not hard to see why fans are clamoring for Horwitz to get a call-up. He’s an on-base machine that would immediately help a team that needs one of those in the worst way. Should he join the big league squad in Oakland, he could find playing time at first and second base right out of the gate.