I’m starting these earlier than I have in the past, in part because the Jays haven’t given us much to talk about lately and partly because we have a holiday coming in March and will be gone for most of the month, so if I’m going to do it, I better get on it.
First up is Addison Barger.
Barger was added to the 40-man roster in November, before the Rule 5 draft. He’s a 23-year-old, left-handed hitting infielder.
Addison (I don’t think I’ve ever met an Addison) was the Blue Jays sixth-round pick back in 2018. At the time, he was ‘committed’ to the University of Florida, which had us thinking that the Jays would need to go well over slot to get him signed, but he signed for the slot value. So it makes me think he wasn’t all that committed to his commitment.
He didn’t impress much in 49 games for the Gulf Coast Jays, hitting just .194/.318/.322. 2019 was going much better, but then he went on the restricted list in July and missed the rest of the season. I don’t know why he was put on the restricted list. And, of course, the 2020 season didn’t happen (wouldn’t it have been nice if the year 2020 didn’t happen?).
In 2021, he had an ok season, mainly in Dunedin, hitting .244/.326/.477 with more strikeouts than you would like (129 in 393 PA).
That was enough to let him sneak onto our 40-man prospect list before last season at number 39 (he’ll be much higher this year. Matt wrote:
There is a big red flag in a 33% strikeout rate, and that will bear closely watching. It makes for a very risky profile, as there’s a significant chance he won’t hit enough at higher levels. But as an infielder with defensive tools to stay there and pop, there’d be regular upside if everything clicked and paths to lesser major league role as a platoon or reserve role. That’s enough to rank at the back of this list, though developments in 2022 will likely move him up or off.
The strikeout rate dropped to 25% last year. And he found more power, got on base well, and became a genuine prospect. He hit .308/.378/.555 in 124 games played, starting in Vancouver and finishing with 8 games at Buffalo.
Baseball America has him as their #5 Jays’ prospect going into this year.
Defensively? All the scouts say that Barger’s best tool is his strong arm. They say he can play short, but his best position would be third, where he can put that arm to use.
In the majors? The Jays can always use a left-handed hitter with power. I think his best chance to make the team is as a utility player with some power, but Matt Chapman is only signed through this season, so if Addison continues to improve, who knows?
I figured the Jays would give him some time in the outfield to give him more value as a utility player. With a shortstop’s range and a third baseman’s arm, he should be able to handle center or right field.
The question is, will we see Barger in the majors this year? Well, he’s on the 40-man, and he can play across the infield, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him at some point. A left-handed bat with power and the ability to fill in at four spots? If I had a suggestion for Cavan Biggio, it would be ‘get off to a good start this year’.
Can he make the team out of spring training? Well, only if there are a few injuries and he has excellent spring training, but I’d think there will be a couple of minor-league signings that will stand between him and the majors, even if a couple of guys go down with injuries. The team would like to see if his improvements from last year cross over to this one while playing full-time at Buffalo.
Streamer figures him to play 11 games in the majors, 49 plate appearances, hitting .252/.307/.448. If he hits that well, I think he’ll get more at-bats.
ZiPS doesn’t guess at playing time but has him hitting .244/.300/.427. They also list Don Money, Jedd Gyorko and Carney Lansford as his top three hitting comps. That’s not a bad group to be in.
Fangraphs has a profile of him here if you want to read more.
If the over/under of Addison Barger’s MLB PA is 50 I’d take the
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Barger will get his first MLB at-bat in
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I expect, in his MLB career, Barger will be
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A solid major leaguer
A utility player
Someone who only gets the odd ‘cup of coffee’ in the majors