With Blue Jays legend in camp, prospects are gravitating toward him and coming away better players

Edwin Encarnación enjoyed the most success of his career with the Blue Jays, so it makes sense that the likes of Orelvis Matinez would turn to him for guidance.

Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One
Wild Card Series - Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays - Game One / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

When we write that Edwin Encarnación is one of the best players in Blue Jays history it's no hyperbole, specifically on offence. He ranks third all-time with 239 home runs, fourth with a .522 slugging percentage, tied-fourth with a .878 OPS and fifth with a 27.2 offensive WAR.

As such, this is a man who knows what he's talking about; someone who the potential stars of tomorrow would do well to turn to for advice to find out what it takes to make it in the big leagues. And that's exactly what's happening at spring training.

Encarnación has been at camp in Dunedin working with the Blue Jays youngsters, including Orelvis Martinez. Depending on where you look, Martinez is either the club's second or third-ranked prospect, someone who carries a lot of expectations.

The 22-year-old was the Blue Jays' main international free agent signing back in 2018, when he received a $3.5M bonus. He is considered arguably the main dark house candidate to make the club's Opening Day roster.

Trending upwards

Last season was Martinez's best yet, as he prospered in his first exposure to Triple-A. He hit 11 homers and 48 RBI in 55 appearances, on his way to an impressive .263/.340/.507 slash line and .847 OPS.

Martinez was previously compared to a young Hanley Ramirez by Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but Encarnación actually goes beyond this praise. As per Keegan Matheson of MLB.com, the three-time All-Star said: "He has more power than Hanley. There’s more power than Hanley. He just needs to learn his strike zone, but he’s going to get it. To me, he has more talent than Hanley at that age. He’s a great, great player. The good thing is that he likes to listen. He’s making adjustments."

Encarnación's comments speak volumes about the dedication and willingness by Martinez to improve. Along these lines, his improved patience and discipline at the plate was key to his offensive output last season.

The Dominican Republic native acknowledged this when speaking through his interpreter, Hector LeBon. As per Matheson, he said: "It’s about being selective. That was the key. Looking for a good pitch to hit and putting good contact on it. Being selective was the key to my success and hopefully I can carry that into this year."

Some defensive uncertainty

There is slightly more uncertainty surrounding where Martinez will end up playing defensively, although he appears set to remain in the infield. He has the arm strength to succeed wherever he lines up, but is the first to admit he still needs to work on his movement around the field.

As far as Encarnación is concerned, Blue Jays fans can expect big things in 2024 from Martinez. He said: "This year, he’s going to have a great year. He has worked hard and he asks me a lot of questions. I’ve been talking to him since last year when he was in Double-A and I went to watch him play. He listens and he wants to learn. He wants to be in the big leagues and that’s what I want, too."

In this respect, even if Martinez isn't named to the Blue Jays' opening day roster, as per MLB.com he's still expected to make his big league debut at some point this year. This gives you even more of an indication of just how much talent the right-handed bat has.

"Nastiest pitch on the Blue Jays", per MLB, unsurprisingly belongs to the staff ace. dark. Next. "Nastiest pitch on the Blue Jays", per MLB, unsurprisingly belongs to the staff ace

Martinez aside, Encarnación is determined to help whoever he can within the Blue Jays organisation, whether it be other young prospects or even the more established players. He said: "I love it. I love helping young guys and being around those guys right now, I feel great. I’m doing what I like to do. I’m enjoying this moment and being around players like Vladdy, Bo Bichette and [Cavan] Biggio, [George] Springer. I feel good when they ask me questions. That’s what I want to do. That’s why I’m here."

This speaks volumes about how much passion and love the 2016 AL RBI leader has for the game of baseball in general and for the Blue Jays specifically. And if he can help Martinez and others have even close to the success he enjoyed during his time in Toronto, the future is bright for the ball club.