Top-100 Prospect Addison Barger Debuts for the Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays called up one of their top prospects to make his MLB debut on Wednesday night.

Addison Barger of the Salt River Rafters bats during the game between the Salt River Rafters and the Peoria Javelinas.
PEORIA, AZ - OCTOBER 29: Addison Barger #28 of the Salt River Rafters bats during the game between the Salt River Rafters and the Peoria Javelinas at Peoria Sports Complex on Saturday, October 29, 2022 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Jerry Kime/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Addison Barger hit .444 with a 215 wRC+ in spring training this year. He hit .314 with a 163 wRC+ at Triple-A. Now, he’s ready to prove what he can do at the highest level.

The 24-year-old went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his MLB debut, but that hardly matters. After a strong start to the 2024 season, Barger is playing in the major leagues. He will get his chance to make his mark.

The Toronto Blue Jays added Barger to their 40-man roster in November 2022 to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. On Wednesday, they called him up to replace an injured Kevin Kiermaier on the active roster.

Kiermaier will be out for at least 10 days and possibly longer. He is dealing with inflammation in his left hip – the same place he had surgery in 2022. An MRI revealed no structural concerns (per Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet), but the timeline for his return remains unclear.

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Barger began his professional career playing all around the infield, but he started working in the outfield last season. Indeed, he played more right field than any other position in 2023.

On Wednesday, he played his first professional game in left field.

Although he is still finding his footing in the outfield, that’s where Barger is likely to get most of his playing time with the Blue Jays. Regular left fielder Daulton Varsho will slide over to cover Kiermaier in center. Barger and Davis Schneider can split the reps in left. Schneider has cooled down somewhat after a hot start.

Barger could also figure into the mix at third base, offering a lefty-batting alternative to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ernie Clement. Kiner-Falefa and Clement are playing well this year, but neither has a strong track record of hitting right-handed pitching. Barger would be a defensive downgrade at the hot corner, but it’s all about getting his bat in the order.

Simply put, the Blue Jays need more offense. While they rank 13th in baseball with a 105 wRC+, they sit at the bottom third of the league in home runs, runs scored, and runs per game. The Blue Jays have not had a negative run differential since 2020. Thus far, they have been outscored by 13 runs.

If Barger can provide an offensive boost, manager John Schneider will find ways to keep him in the lineup.

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For his part, Barger will need to prove he can hold his own against MLB competition. If he keeps swinging the bat like he has in the minors, that shouldn’t be a problem. He has gone 22-for-70 with 14 walks so far this season at Triple-A. Thirteen of his 22 hits have gone for extra bases, including 10 doubles and three home runs.

Big league pitching will be a whole new challenge for Barger, but he has the skills to make a difference for this Blue Jays team.

Entering the season, Barger ranked fourth among Blue Jays prospects and No. 90 overall on Just Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects list. For more on this electric young bat, here is what Aram Leighton wrote about him on our preseason rankings:

90. Addison Barger – 3B – Toronto Blue Jays

Height/Weight: 6’0″, 200 | Bat/Throw: L/R | 6th Round (176), 2018 (TOR) | ETA: 2024


Drafted as a shortstop, Barger saw much more action at third base and right field in Triple-A. While that puts more pressure on his bat, he has enough pop to carry a 3B/RF profile with improving swing decisions.


Starting upright with his hands high and just over his head, Barger pulls his hands back in tandem with a big leg kick with his knee getting up to his waist. He really swings for damage, getting his most violent swing off often, but possesses a better feel to hit than expected with such loud moves and a violent swing.

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Barger controls his body well, demonstrating plenty of barrel accuracy, really breaking through in that department in his big 2022 campaign. His overall contact rate of 75% and zone contact rate of 85% in 2023 were both the highest marks of his career. Despite his exit velocities jumping multiple ticks, a flatter swing path hampered his game power. Barger saw his average launch angle on hard-hit balls cut in half from 2022 to 2023, explaining the more than 100-point drop in slugging percentage between the two seasons.

With the improvements bat-to-ball-wise, There’s comfortably above-average power in the tank.

An aggressive hitter through most of his professional career, Barger cut his chase rate under 30% for the first time, resulting in his highest walk rate at any stop (13%). There’s potential for average hit and above-average power from the left side, complemented by an improving approach.


Limited range has resulted in Barger seeing less action at shortstop in favor of third base and right field where his double-plus arm plays well. Despite seeing his first action in the outfield of his professional career in 2023, Barger looked relatively comfortable, taking pretty good routes and covering enough ground. His arm was an asset immediately, providing highlight-worthy outfield assists.

He has the goods to be an average defender at the hot corner if he can clean his actions up some. There’s a tendency to sit back on balls, resulting in tough hops that can eat him up. He is accurate with his big arm, rarely making a throwing error. An average runner, Barger is not much of a factor on the base paths but is not a negative either.


On the surface, 2023 was a bit of a letdown after slashing .308/.378/.555 across three levels the season prior, but the underlying batted ball data and relative comfort in right field were encouraging. His steady splits and added defensive versatility increase his likelihood of becoming a regular, as does his improved swing decisions. Above-average offense and the ability to play multiple spots could make Barger an above-average regular.

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