MLB Pipeline ranks Barger as the 5th best prospect in the Blue Jays system. He spent the entire year at Triple-A Buffalo and played shortstop, third base, and right field. Like Martinez, Barger is not a long-term shortstop. He spent a lot of time in the infield throughout the year but by August he was a primary right fielder.
Barger has gotten to be very muscular and as a result he's not as agile as he used to be. Shortstop and second base can immediately be ruled out as long term options. From an actions and hands perspective, Barger is a more polished infielder than Martinez and he also has a cannon of an arm. His arm is so loud that it was likely the inspiration behind his move to right field.
First let's take a look at Barger as an infielder, here's a play showing off his massive arm.
Even with a slight stumble he fires on time to get a quick runner. It's a potentially 70-grade arm. Barger also shows good reads and good instincts on the infield. It's important to remember that not long ago he was seen as a long term shortstop. His hands and actions are not always as quick as you'd like and he does make routine mistakes from time to time. In the below clip he makes a good read but struggles with the transfer a bit. He still converts the play with relative ease.
Barger has plays like the one above where he shows good mobility but he also has plays where his limited range is apparent. This is a ball that a third baseman is expected to get to.
As a right fielder, there's no shortage of plays where Barger can show off his arm. This is a picturesque throw.
And in this clip he initially misreads the ball but recovers in plenty of time and then throws a bullet to double up the runner at first base.
It's to be expected that Barger is still getting used to the outfield. It was only this year that he began to play there in games. His good reflexes have transferred over but he's still learning to consistently read and track the ball. He's not agile but when he gets moving he's not a bad runner. Here's a nice catch in difficult conditions.
And here is an occasion where his lack of acceleration was the difference between a catch and having to play the ball on a hop.
And finally, here's a great catch at the wall.
Based on this year's tape and prior evaluations from other scouts, here are Barger's Field grades for the main positions he has played.
Barger is currently a superior defender to Martinez at third base but it's also important to remember that he has two more years of experience. Based off this year's tape, Barger looks pretty comfortable in right field for someone very new to the position. There's a scenario where he ends up as an above average defender there on the back of his arm and good reads and routes but currently he's projecting as an average defender given his lack of range. Like Martinez, the crowded Buffalo infield may have been a factor in Barger moving away from third base. His utility will be an important factor in him breaking camp with the team in 2024.