No. 2 prospect Martinez could be speeding up his timeline

April 25th, 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.

KANSAS CITY -- , you’re next.

After No. 6 prospect Addison Barger was promoted by the Blue Jays Wednesday in Kansas City, Martinez (No. 2) is next in line. These two are drastically different prospects, but down in Triple-A Buffalo, it feels like everyone is hitting.

“Three, in particular, are doing really well,” manager John Schneider said.

That’s Barger, Martinez and Spencer Horwitz (No. 16). Their numbers are eye-popping, but as we saw with Barger’s promotion, position and fit are what matter most right now. It’s still April, so the Blue Jays aren’t rushing to make permanent changes to their lineup, but that time could come.

Martinez is coming off a stretch of six home runs in seven games, flaunting the remarkable power that’s had the Blue Jays’ player development staff buzzing for years. We’re finally starting to see Martinez put this power to work with a more complete approach, which is always the tipping point. He’s batting .316 with a 1.018 OPS through 19 games, and while there’s still some swing-and-miss for Martinez to work through, his power can make you forget about that in an instant.

Barger has always made more sense in the short term because of his ability to play third base and the corner outfield, whereas Martinez has a narrower defensive profile. Martinez came up playing some shortstop and third base, and while he has the arm to make those throws, he’s a much more natural fit long-term at second base.

The problem? The Blue Jays have 20 second basemen on their roster.

This means that, when Martinez does get called up, it could be more permanent. Adding Martinez would require a long-term injury or the Blue Jays simply deciding he’s a better option than Davis Schneider, Ernie Clement or Cavan Biggio. That’s not happening ... yet ... but Martinez has the talent to force the decision, and all he’s done in 2024 is move up the timeline.

This takes us back to the days of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. Their numbers alone warranted a callup before their actual promotion, but at the time, we heard general manager Ross Atkins and player development staff preach “routines.” Martinez doesn’t require language quite so vague, but his defense at second is a major factor as the Blue Jays look for the sweet spot.

“You want them to be doing well, but not just offensively,” Schneider said. “You want them to be doing well baseball-wise. You’ve got to have guys play the [full] game. To me, that’s kind of a lost art. Guys can hit the ball hard and throw it hard, but you’ve got to play. It’s going to win you or lose you games. The whole package is what we’re looking to develop.”

Eventually, talent wins. Eventually, the Blue Jays will need to decide who their best 13 hitters are, regardless of what the roster construction and asset management says. It’s not time yet, but every day, Martinez is finding a way to help himself.

Triple-A Buffalo: Horwitz deserves some shine here. The first baseman is batting .352 with a .495 on-base percentage this season, and while there’s still not much power to speak of (1 HR), Horwitz is “great at what he’s good at,” as they say. A Horwitz promotion would still take something like an injury to Guerrero Jr. or Justin Turner, but all this man does in Triple-A is produce.

Double-A New Hampshire: Get ready to hear the name Josh Kasevich (No. 11) more and more. He’s one of the best defensive shortstops in the system and I’ve heard a dozen different people in the organization call him “a machine.” His work ethic and the consistency around his game are unmatched in this system, with even some older prospects highlighting him as a player they like to follow. We need to see some power, but with him batting .375 out of the gates, Kasevich’s arrow is pointing way up.

High-A Vancouver: This is a big year for outfielder Dasan Brown (No. 26). He’s batting .245 with a .333 on-base percentage, and frankly, that’s enough to let his speed and defense shine. He still has a path to the big leagues if his bat doesn’t completely crater and is still one of the best athletes in the organization.

Single-A Dunedin: Outfielder Yhoangel Aponte (No. 25) is dripping with upside. He’s walked 12 times in 16 games, which looks great alongside his power potential, and has a .779 OPS. He’s a candidate to skyrocket this season.