6 Blue Jays minor leaguers who are playing their way into the big league roster picture
By Eric Treuden
At the end of 2023 Spring Training, the Blue Jays, like any other team, had to make some tough roster decisions. Multiple high-caliber players were optioned to minor league camp despite a hot spring showing. The fact of the matter is, the Blue Jays have a very deep 26-man roster, so there just wasn't room for everybody.
Six players in particular were sent down to Triple-A Buffalo but have been tearing it up down there to start the season. If someone like Trevor Richards continues to struggle, or if the Blue Jays deal from their second base surplus, there could be a spot (or even two) open for one of the minor leaguers to step up.
Here are 6 Blue Jays minor leaguers who may force their way back into the big league roster picture.
Spencer Horwitz, the Blue Jays' No. 18 prospect (per MLB.com) could be first in line if the Jays eventually move on from a position player in the big leagues. If this does happen, Horwitz will benefit. The 25-year-old has a .310 average and has drawn an impressive seven walks through the first nine games of his season.
Nate Pearson, a once-promising prospect of the Jays, didn't make the club's Opening Day roster but is on a mission to show why that was a mistake. While he can be erratic sometimes with his triple-digit fastball, he has done a great job so far in limiting baserunners and striking out a ton of batters. Through the first 5.1 innings of his season (in five appearances), he has 11 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA.
Addison Barger, the No. 6 prospect in the system, was one of the harder roster cuts for the Jays to make during spring. The 23-year-old infielder looked great in spring and has continued to impress in Triple-A. Through 10 games, he has a home run and four RBI with a .256 average. He has continued playing third base and shortstop in the minors but also started in right field on Wednesday. He is one of the more versatile players the Jays have in the system.
Nathan Lukes, a minor league veteran who cracked the Blue Jays' Opening Day roster this year, has been on a roll since his recent demotion back down to Buffalo. In just five games, he's already 7-for-20 (good for a .350 average) with a home run, four RBI, four walks and just one strikeout. The 28-year-old feels like a candidate to flip-flop with Jordan Luplow on the big league roster if he continues this stretch of play.
Bowden Francis, a right-handed pitcher who made his big league debut last year for the Jays, has been dominant so far in two starts for the Bisons. In seven innings of work, he has 12 strikeouts and two walks. He, like Lawrence, has been in the minors for a while but looks sharp to start the year and could very easily see time in the big leagues if he keeps this solid start up.
Otto Lopez is a player that constantly comes up when talking about the Blue Jays roster bubble. He has quietly been one of the best contact hitters in the entire organization since he joined it and still feels right on the cusp of consistent playing time in the big leagues. After a strong spring, strong 22-game stint in the Winter Leagues, and strong start to the Triple-A season, he can't be kept down for much longer. The versatile speedster has a subpar .219 average so far but has two triples, four walks and seven runs scored.