Why Blue Jays are easing in with Orelvis

June 20th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

TORONTO -- Welcome to the big leagues, . You can take a few days to settle in.

Martinez, the Blue Jays’ No. 2 prospect and No. 68 in MLB, got the call on Tuesday afternoon and raced to Toronto. He got to the Blue Jays’ clubhouse just over an hour before first pitch, so it was understandable that he wasn’t thrown right into the lineup, but by leaving him out on Wednesday, as well, the Blue Jays are making it clear they aren’t going to force him in.

“A lot of these guys who are coming up, you don’t want to throw them in every single day in every single spot. You want to pick and choose,” manager John Schneider said. “That was kind of the plan when we did call [Orelvis] up, targeting the weekend to start. He’s a really talented player, so there’s no hesitation to put him in.”

Martinez is here for a reason. He has the best power in the organization outside of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and he hit 16 home runs with an .866 OPS over 63 games this season at Triple-A Buffalo. Yes, Martinez has struggled with strikeouts at times, but not every prospect arrives as the complete package like Vladdy did.

You’ll get to see Martinez for the first time this weekend when the Blue Jays are in Cleveland, likely at second base. He may not have long to make an impression, though, because Bo Bichette could come back from the IL as early as June 25 and the Blue Jays already have plenty of infielders.

“It’s good to get him up here and experience it, much like Addison [Barger] did earlier this year and Spencer [Horwitz] last year a little bit. That part was attractive,” Schneider said. “But this is our No. 1 hitting prospect. If he shows that he’s handling himself well, [optioning him] is not a slam-dunk decision.”

But it still feels like the likeliest outcome will be Martinez returning to Triple-A and making his way back to the Majors for the stretch run … or sooner, if another injury necessitates it. He’ll need to get some regular at-bats eventually, though, because the power potential that Martinez brings to this lineup is desperately needed. Regardless of how likely it is that he’ll hit the ground running, this is a 22-year-old who can change a game with one swing.

For now, Martinez has a chance to exhale and get used to the bright lights. It’s easy for a young player to join the big club at home, where they can stay at the Marriott hotel attached to Rogers Centre and keep everything simple, but there’s so much else that goes into a young player’s arrival.

“Everything -- from your locker to where the weight room is, where the cage is, what this cage does, where you’re eating, the schedule, adding him to the WhatsApp chain so he knows what’s going on, signs, game situations -- there’s a lot,” Schneider said. “You want to try to make the guys as comfortable as possible, and the players do a good job of that, too. It’s a whirlwind.”

Minor League roundup

Triple-A Buffalo Bisons

Outfielder Alan Roden (No. 7) recently earned the call to Triple-A after posting a .373 on-base percentage in Double-A New Hampshire. Adding more power is the one thing that could launch Roden into the conversation of being a starting outfielder in the Majors one day, but for now, he still offers one of the best plate approaches in the organization.

Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats

Lefty Adam Macko (No. 9) is doing everything he can to earn a taste of Triple-A this season. Macko owns a 3.76 ERA with 78 strikeouts over 67 innings in Double-A, and given how well he finished down the stretch in 2023, we may not have seen his best yet. This organization has been hit hard by injuries to its pitching prospects, but Macko has exceeded expectations.

High-A Vancouver Canadians

Lefty Connor O’Halloran just missed out on the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects list to open the season. That’s likely going to change. O’Halloran, Toronto's fifth-round pick out of Michigan in the 2023 MLB Draft, got off to an excellent start with Single-A Dunedin and earned the promotion on May 25. Between the two levels, O'Halloran has posted a 3.04 ERA with 59 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.

Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays

Righty Fernando Perez (No. 24) will be moved along slowly at just 20 years old, but the Blue Jays are thrilled with the first half of his season. Already showing his advanced feel for pitching, Perez has a 3.47 ERA with 64 strikeouts over 59 2/3 innings.