Addison Barger was the leading hitter in the Blue Jays system this year by a considerable margin.
If it feels like we’ve been waiting a while for Barger, whom the Blue Jays talked out of a Florida commitment after taking him in the 6th round of the 2018 draft, it’s only because, well…it’s been a while. Toss in a year lost to Covid, and we’re now just starting to see what he’s capable of. The pop began to show up in Low A last year, and this year he became even more of an all-around threat at the plate, leading the system in OPS as he hit his way from Vancouver to New Hampshire to Buffalo for some last week of the season bonus play.
Barger is one of the strongest players in the system, and no one currently in the organization gets to their barrel quite like he does:
With a slightly open stance and a long swing, Barger gets the bat head out quickly. As he moved up the ladder, he improved his two-strike approach somewhat to cut down on the strikeouts, but he can enlarge his strike zone at times:
Barger can play 2nd (although he didn’t see any time there in 2022), SS, and 3rd, and with his rifle arm is well suited to the left side of the infield. As an added bonus, he’s a left-handed bat, which is something the big club could use. He didn’t miss a beat when he was promoted to AAA:
When Barger arrived at New Hampshire, he went on a tear, posting a 1.251 OPS in his first 15 Eastern League games. He also provided some protection for a struggling Orelvis Martinez in the lineup – when Barger missed a week at the end of beginning of September, Orelvis saw very few strikes, and went 1-30 over that stretch. Yes, the analysts say that batting order protection really doesn’t exist, but when the guy ahead of you is pounding the baseball and getting on base 40% of the time, you’re bound to see some better pitches. With a few games left in Buffalo’s season, Barger has a decent shot to reach 60 extra base hits (he currently has 58 – only a handful of minor leaguers have more).
The struggles of several high profile big league call ups this season has served to underscore the fact that of all the jumps between levels in baseball, the one from AAA to MLB is truly canyonesque. Barger needs to be added to the 40 man roster this season in order to protect him the Rule 5 draft, and you would have to think given his bat and versatility, he’s a lock. Some more time in AAA might be needed, but Barger is definitely on the cusp of a big league job.
-1B Rainer Nunez, who won a Florida State League batting title despite spending the last six weeks of the season with Vancouver;
-1B/3B Damiano Palmegiani, who slugged 24 HRs at two levels;
-OF Gabriel Martinez, who at 19 began to show some of his huge potential, reaching High A.