GM Ross Atkins sheds light on why the club hasn't promoted big league-ready prospects

Ross Atkins addressing the media about Blue Jays underperformance.
Ross Atkins addressing the media about Blue Jays underperformance. / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

To summarize the Blue Jays in one word would be 'underperformance.' A large portion of their core players entering 2024 have not lived up to expectation to this point in the season. The Blue Jays Fangraphs playoff projections have already dropped to 20.2%, in a year that was deemed as critical for the team to take a step forward. There have been some attempts to give new life to the roster, such as taking advantage of Davis Schneider in the leadoff spot. However it hasn't been enough to give the team the spark that they've been lacking, as the Jays rank 29th in runs scored.

The Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons are currently having a season with many positive takeaways. What's been most noticeable for them is the continued dominance by position players who are close to big league-ready. Players like Addison Barger, Spencer Horwitz, and Orelvis Martinez are all putting on good displays in the minor leagues, seemingly ready for a promotion any day now, as there's not much left to prove at their level.

GM Ross Atkins has come forward during his media availability to provide some clarity as to why these players are not currently on the MLB roster, and what can be expected as the season continues. Atkins states that he believes the ideal contributions to the roster are either already in the clubhouse, or are working away in Triple-A, indicating that the team is open to calling up one of their prospects later down the line. He goes on to say that these players need to get everyday reps and that the best avenue for that is in Triple-A.

For a player like Martinez, it's rather simple what's prevented him from making his major league debut this season. Martinez is currently learning how to play 2nd base, and so far he has 11 errors at the position. “It’s a combination of where he would play here, him learning to play second at a level that would be average to above (average) and the benefit of player development and that time for a 22-year-old,” Atkins said. “Those three things are what is keeping him in Triple-A at this point.”

Martinez is still expected to make a contribution later on, as his power potential is some of the best within the organization. He has 11 home runs and a .270 ISO for the Buffalo Bisons, and is just 22-years old. The front office is high on Martinez, and would like to make sure he is properly ready before doing anything hasty for his development.

As for Horwitz, it's an interesting situation for he could factor into the Jays plans, and what's currently keeping him in the minors. He is a 1B/DH and with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Justin Turner currently on the roster, it becomes tougher to find a spot for Horwitz. He's been playing more of second base and left field this season, but that's far from a sure thing to pan out. He could potentially replace Vogelbach's position on the roster, but would that be worth it for Horwitz? Atkins and the front office believe it's more valuable for Horwitz to develop further in Triple-A then get inconsistent opportunity on the current MLB roster.

It makes sense the way that the organization views Horwitz. However, it might make sense for both sides to deal him while he's been so torrid with the Bisons. He doesn't have much left to prove in the minor leagues, and could likely get a better chance to play for another team that has a place for him. Horwitz currently has a .447 OBP in 43 games, which is the 6th highest mark in the International League.