Blue Jays: Prospect Addison Barger to see time in outfield this spring
It's been well-documented this offseason that the Blue Jays have been unable to add a fourth outfielder and another left-handed bat. However, it sounds like the team may look within the organization to find a solution to both problems.
There's word out of the Jays' Spring Training camp that prospect Addison Barger will see some time in the outfield this spring.
Keegan Matheson of MLB.com reports that the Jays plan to try Barger in the outfield at some point during camp. We can only assume this means during Spring Training games, not just shagging fly balls at the complex.
While Barger had played a little of first and second base in the low minors, he's primarily been a shortstop and third baseman through Double-A and Triple-A. But if he's going to have a chance for a promotion to the big leagues, he'll have to find another spot on the field.
With Bo Bichette and Matt Chapman, who played in 159 and 155 games last season, respectively, on the left side of the infield, it will be nearly impossible for the Jays' 14th overall prospect to get a sniff of the majors this year.
The team obviously sees some potential for the 23-year-old Barger to shift to the outfield, likely due to his 65-grade, well-above-average arm that would make him a threat from the outfield corners.
They might be looking for some added insurance in case either Kevin Kiermaier or George Springer has health issues this season. While both veterans are coming into 2023 fully healthy, a lot can happen through a 162-game schedule.
If Barger can make the transition to the outfield, he immediately becomes a valuable backup option. Even if he starts his season in Buffalo and continues to show a strong offensive game, he's only a phone call away.
And there's no doubt the young lefty can handle the bat. Through three levels in 2022, Barger slashed .308/.378/.555 with 26 home runs in only 124 games.
Almost as impressive as his power numbers was his strikeout-to-walk ratio. Despite a 25.3% K rate in Double-A, in his eight Triple-A games, he improved his plate discipline and ended up with an even 13.9% BB rate and 13.9% K rate. It bodes well anytime a young hitter can adapt his approach and walk as much as he strikes out.
Barger is already on the 40-man roster, so depending on how the Spring Training trial goes, we could see Barger in Toronto before long.