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Conversations with the Herd: Spencer Horwitz

By: Brian Frank


Spencer Horwitz has been an on-base machine in his time with the Herd. Last season, the 26-year-old Maryland native set a Bisons modern-era single-season record, when he posted a remarkable .450 on base percentage. He also had the third highest single-season batting average (.337) of the team’s modern era last year, behind only Dave Clark (.340 in 1987) and Matt Hague (.338 in 2015).


Horwitz’s ability to not only get base hits, but also draw walks, makes him an extremely valuable contributor to any lineup.


“It’s something that I’ve always valued and I think the Blue Jays value it at a premium right now as well,” Horwitz said of his knowledge of the strike zone and ability to get on base in a recent interview with The Herd Chronicles. “The more people you have on base, typically the more runners you score. So, I definitely value it highly. I’ve been pretty lucky with a good eye and I also definitely work on it.”


His knowledge of the strike zone is extraordinary – and something he’s still working hard at improving.


“For me it’s just challenging myself in practice,” he said. “Not just doing your typical BP and just letting them groove it in there, but getting in the machine work and off-speed work and really pushing yourself in practice.”


Horwitz has started playing more second base this season. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles


Horwitz believes the Automated Ball-Strike system (ABS) used for the past two seasons in Triple-A has also helped him improve his plate discipline.


“I think it’s helped me understand what the strike zone definitely is,” he said. “I mean, the computer is not going to make a mistake and human error is part of the game typically – but right now, that’s not a thing here. It’s definitely evolved my game plan a little bit, where I can be a little more selective.”


Horwitz was named the 2023 Stan Barron Team MVP for the Bisons for his incredible season when he posted a .945 OPS with 30 doubles, 10 home runs, and 72 RBIs.


“Winning any sort of MVP is an honor,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not my last one, but if it is, it’s a pretty special one. I had a great group of guys around me last year. There were a number of guys who could have won it – Davis (Schneider) and Ernie (Clement) and (Nathan) Lukes – but I was lucky enough to be chosen. It’s definitely an honor.”


Prior to his remarkable 2023 season, Horwitz played in the World Baseball Classic for Team Israel. During the tournament, former Mets media relations guru and current VP of Mets Alumni Relations Jay Horwitz jokingly tweeted a congratulations to his “grandson,” making jest of the fact they share a last name, although they’re not really related.


“Jay was our public relations guy for team Israel during the WBC,” Spencer Horwitz explained. “He posted a picture during the WBC when I got a hit and said, ‘Congrats to my grandson.’ And it just kind of blew up. A lot of people still come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I know your grandfather really well.’ Then everyone is a little disappointed when I tell them that (it’s not true). Jay’s a great guy and just knowing him during that brief stint that I did was awesome. He has some really good stories.”



Horwitz has added to his defensive repertoire the last few seasons. Normally a first baseman, he began playing some left field during the 2022 season at New Hampshire. Near the end of last season, he began play some second base, something he’s continued to do this season.


“I came up as a shortstop in high school and played some second too, so it’s something that’s not completely foreign to me, but I definitely enjoy the challenge,” he said.


“I think it’s going pretty well,” he continued. “The thinking behind it is this lineup is pretty good, and same thing with the big-league team, that lineup is pretty good as well – so just finding a way to get my bat into the lineup in different ways. It’s only going to help me in my career if I can play second base or play left field or play first, then I can get my bat in the lineup in different ways.”


This season is Horwitz’s fourth year playing for Bisons manager Casey Candaele. He also played for Candaele in 2019 at Low-A Vancouver, and the last two seasons in Buffalo.


“I know him pretty well,” Horwitz said. “I love Casey. He’s my favorite manager I’ve ever played for. He’s definitely not going to shy away from what he believes. I think that’s important, especially in today’s game, is playing the game the right way. He’s really instilled that in me – and hopefully I can instill that in others as well.”


Horwitz and Davis Schneider last season. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles


Horwitz has continued to get on base at an incredible rate this season. Heading into Thursday night’s game in Syracuse, he’s hitting .314 and getting on base at a .432 clip – which would be the second highest on base percentage in the Bisons modern era behind only the standard he set last season. He’s been leading a deep Bisons lineup that has been at or near the top of the International League in runs scored all season.


“It makes it a lot easier on everyone I think, when you’re (strong) one through nine – and even the guys on the bench that day can all contribute in time,” Horwitz said. “We’ve seen it from guys hitting ninth like Steward (Berroa) and Cam (Eden). Those guys both have power and can produce in many different ways – and guys in the middle and at the top. It’s working out pretty well right now. I think we’re in third (in the division) right now. I think we have to clean up a few things and that should help us have a championship team.”

 

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