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Four Blue Jays prospects just got one step closer to the big leagues.

With MLB's Tuesday deadline to add players to the 40-man roster, Toronto added prospects Yosver Zulueta, Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger, and Spencer Horwitz. In order to clear space on the 40-man, Toronto designated outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Raimel Tapia for assignment and released pitcher Foster Griffin.

Tuesday's moves were the latest of Toronto's roster shuffles in preparation for the Rule 5 draft, including adding outfielder Nathan Lukes to the 40-man last week. Players with a set amount of service time left off the 40-man roster are eligible for selection at next month's draft—though selected players must stay on a team's 26-man roster all season. 

Toronto's protections give some insight into how the Jays value prospects internally, how they think other teams would view them in the Rule 5, and how close some prospects may be to the big leagues. Here's a bit about the prospects the Jays just added to the 40-man roster today:

P Yosver Zulueta

Long expected, Zulueta's rise up Toronto's minors in 2022 was still exciting to track. The 24-year-old righty, 25 by Spring Training next year, pitched at four different league levels last year, reaching a brief Triple A stint before minor knee and shoulder injuries sidetracked any possibility of an MLB debut.

After a 3.72 ERA and 13.9 K/9 in his 55.2 innings of work last year, the Jays will likely try to stretch the Cuban flamethrower out again in 2023. Depending on how Toronto's offseason shakes out, there could be a winnable spot in Toronto's bullpen out of spring training or early in the season, though.

INF Orelvis Martinez

After cracking most industry top prospect lists following a breakout 2021, Martinez struggled with approach at Double A this year. Though his power remained (30 homers in 118 games), the 20-year-old infielder hit .203 with a .286 OBP and 28.5% strikeout rate. He's still regarded as one of the top hitting prospects in the system, but a refined approach is needed to flourish in the upper minors and MLB.

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Martinez certainly isn't MLB-ready, but with undeniable power and tantalizing upside, a rebuilding team would've taken a shot on him if left unprotected in the Rule 5.

INF Addison Barger

Barger played himself into a 40-man spot this year with his best season yet across three minor league levels. The 23-year-old slashed .308/.378/.555, ending up in Triple A before a trip to Arizona for the Fall League.

He's a rare left-handed bat in Toronto's minors and will be in play for a 2023 MLB promotion to cover any infield spot.

1B/LF Spencer Horwitz

Another lefty bat in Toronto's upper minors, Horwitz slugged his way up from Double to Triple A this season, putting together a .843 OPS in 114 games with 12 homers and a pristine walk-to-strikeout ratio. 

Toronto's organizational coaches lauded Horwitz's maturity as a hitter and approach in the box this year. Though he struggled against southpaws, Horwitz is a righty masher who could contribute in 2023 at first base, left field, designated hitter, and as a bench bat.

Some notable names were left off Toronto's 40-man roster, and will be exposed in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, including:

  • INF Tanner Morris
  • RP Adrian Hernandez
  • OF Gabriel Martinez
  • P Jimmy Robbins
  • P Adam Kloffenstein
  • INF Alex DeJesus
  • OF Davis Schneider

These players were not seen as locks to make the 40-man roster, and are by no means guaranteed losses in the Rule 5 draft. Even some highly regarded prospects, like Gabriel Martinez, may have been left off the 40-man because young age and lack of experience in the upper minors makes it hard for an opposing team to snatch away in the Rule 5 and keep them on an MLB roster all season.