Will Addison Barger’s Plus Bat Bring Him to the Blue Jays Soon?

Blue Jays prospect Addison Barger continues to make loud contact early this year, as he strives to crack the big leagues in 2024.

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)

This spring, a handful of prospects and veteran bats were vying for a spot on the Toronto Blue Jays Opening Day roster. Despite the recent departures of some key veteran bats, such as Matt Chapman and Whit Merrifield, multiple offseason additions and the emergence of Davis Schneider last year decreased the number of available roster spots to just one or two possible bench roles to start the campaign.

When the dust settled, it was Ernie Clement and non-roster invitee Daniel Vogelbach locking down those bench roles, with a smorgasbord of infield prospects heading down to Triple-A including Orelvis Martinez, Damiano Palmegiani, Leo Jimenez, and Spencer Horwitz.

Amongst the group of optioned players was also the versatile Addison Barger, a former sixth-round draft pick out of C. Leon King High School (Tampa, Florida) in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Jays pried Barger away from joining the Gators at the University of Florida, signing him to a $271,100 bonus.

Addison Barger Looking to Crack the Blue Jays Roster

Since signing with the Blue Jays, Barger has worked his way up the minor league ladder, spending most of the 2023 season in Triple-A Buffalo with the Bisons.

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The left-handed batter gained a lot of attention last spring, where his athletic build, leg kick at the plate, and mammoth solo home run helped showcase his plus power at the plate. That spring, he collected two doubles and one home run while posting a .294 average, carving out strong at-bats against big league arms over 15 games.

After an impressive spring showcase, Barger battled an elbow issue that limited him to just 88 games with Buffalo. He saw a dip in his home run total and OPS. Defensively, he split most of his time between shortstop and third base but also suited up in right field for the first time in his career, spending over 276 innings in the corner outfield spot. His plus arm netted him three outfield assists.

This spring, Barger showcased his batting ability again, hitting the ball hard and posting a .444/.545/.611 slash line with three doubles, four walks, and two RBIs over four games. In the Spring Breakout contest against the Yankees, Barger had one of the biggest hits of the day for the Jays prospects, lacing a 103.9 MPH line drive to right field that netted him a triple. He split the spring between third base and right field.

At 24 years old, Barger (No. 90 on Just Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects list) joins a crowded group of players in Buffalo this season who are all close to knocking on the big league door or already have a small sample size in the major leagues.

For a Jays squad that enters the year looking to find more consistent at-bats and hopefully a bit more pop at the plate, there is a good chance that Barger will find himself in the big leagues this season. Not only that, but he could be the first prospect called up to Toronto.

Plus Bat Has Addison Barger in the Mix

Orelvis Martinez and Spencer Horwitz are also in the conversation to be the first prospect the Jays call up. However, Barger’s quick bat and ability to play in the corners gives him a slight edge over his counterparts, especially considering the Jays’ lack of prospect depth in the outfield compared to other positions. His power bat would be a definite complement to the lineup, especially if he can improve his launch angles this year.

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As Just Baseball’s Aram Leighton notes, “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.”

So far at Triple-A, Barger has gotten off to a bit of a slow start at the plate, but the power is still on display. Of his three hits, two have been for extra bases, including a game-winning double. He has also hit multiple balls over 105 MPH, with an impressive swinging strike percentage to start the season.

Interestingly, Barger has played third base to start the year at Triple-A, with the prospect showing off his range and his strong arm on multiple occasions against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Overall, Barger’s bat will be the main reason fans see him with Toronto later this year, but with his added defensive versatility, he sets himself up for a promotion quicker than some of the other prospects (barring an injury to a core member of the Blue Jays).

With the Jays’ inconsistency at the plate to start the year, we may see the coaching staff call for a change sooner rather than later. If he continues showing off his plus power, Barger will insert himself into the conversation.