According to Keegan Matheson at MLB.com, the Toronto Blue Jays will apparently be promoting top prospect, Gabriel Moreno, from AAA this weekend as the team faces the Detroit Tigers for a three-game series.
Ranked as the No. 9 prospect in our top 100, Moreno is currently posting solid numbers down in Buffalo. Through 36 games, the catcher owns a .324/.380/.404 slash line with nine extra-base hits and 23 RBI. He also has three stolen bases and has posted a .784 OPS so far this season.
Defensively, Moreno continues to impress with his arm and play behind the plate. The Venezuelan product has thrown out 54% of base stealers this year and boasts a clean 1.000 fielding percentage with just three passed balls.
What Moreno’s Promotion Mean for the Blue Jays
With Danny Jansen heading to the IL earlier this week with a fifth metacarpal fracture on his glove hand, many Jays fans thought a Moreno call-up was imminent.
The front office decided to get a catcher up quickly in Zack Collins, but have now changed course and appear ready to give Moreno his MLB debut this weekend. Against a Tigers squad that boasts a 23-33 record and has gone 6-4 in its last ten games, this is a great scenario for the young prospect to get his feet wet at the Major League level.
The biggest question will be when he will see some game action, whether it be behind the plate or in the DH spot. The Jays are sending Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, and Ross Stripling to the mound this weekend, so it will be interesting to see where and when he slots in on the batting order.
Another thing to consider is whose spot he will take on the roster, as no official announcement has been made as well as a corresponding move. It makes sense that Collins heads back down but they could keep him on the team and run with three catchers and possibly DFA struggling Bradley Zimmer instead. The three catchers will also be the case when Jansen returns unless Moreno is sent back down once the other is healthy.
Whatever the case, Blue Jays fans have been waiting for Gabriel Moreno to make his debut sometime this season. I am sure a few more fans are going to be making the road trip down to Detroit this weekend to see him play, so there may be some more Blue Jays jerseys in the stands this weekend at Comerica Park.
Heading into the season, Gabriel Moreno was ranked as the No. 9 prospect in Just Baseball’s top 100, making him the third-best catching prospect in the game behind recently graduated Adley Rutschman and Mets young phenom Francisco Alvarez.
Here is the scouting report Aram Leighton wrote on Moreno heading into the 2022 campaign.
9. Gabriel Moreno – C – Toronto Blue Jays
Age: 22 | Height/Weight: 6’2′, 180 | Bat/Throw: R/R | IFA: $25K (2018) TOR | ETA: 2022
An elite hit tool with burgeoning power and solid defense, Gabriel Moreno has become one of the safest bets behind the dish in the minors.
2021 Stats (AA): (32 G) – .373/.441/.651, 8 HR, 18 XBH, 192 wRC+, 15.2 K%, 9.7 BB%
Upright stance with some weight on his back leg, Moreno starts his hands in a relaxed position then uses a barrel tip for timing. He is able to repeat this move remarkably well, timing it up with a simple stride. Moreno creates great separation, allowing him to uncork like a rubber band on pitches middle-in. A really mature hitter, Moreno leverages hitter’s counts really well and knows where and when to do damage. Moreno is so advanced at the plate that he can look to do damage early and adjust when behind.
With just a 12% K-rate in his minor league career and an ability to spray the ball to all fields, Moreno’s plus hit tool is his best attribute. The 21-year-old also showed an improved ability to walk and did not see his K-rate jump at expense of his burgeoning power, leaving us very confident in his plus hit tool.
An athletic catcher, Moreno moves well behind the dish and has a quick release complemented by an above-average arm. Moreno’s receiving has earned mixed reviews, but he has shown enough to leave optimism in that regard. Same goes for his blocking. Moreno is a gamer who pitchers enjoy as a battery mate and he continues to blossom defensively with more reps. It is safe to assume that Moreno could at least be an average defender with potential to be above-average with the glove.
Moreno was one of our breakout candidates for the 2021 season and before going down with a thumb injury, he had exceeded even our expectations. Moreno has a swing geared for line drives, but showed burgeoning power homering eight times in his 32 Double-A games.
Moreno earns an above-average power grade, but with a 70 hit-tool, he is able to squeeze out every ounce of that 55-grade pop. It is easy to envision 20-25 homers for Moreno along with a high batting average and improved on-base skills. The 22-year-old has only punched out 11% of the time in his MiLB career and his strikeout rate has hardly budged as he has ascended to the upper levels.
With a great approach, elite bat-to-ball skills and power that is developing before our eyes, it is easy to see a perennial All-Star ceiling with Gabriel Moreno. If he weren’t a catcher, the bat would still be exciting enough to rank him comfortably inside of the Top 100 List, however with a good defensive profile behind the dish, Moreno is one of baseball’s most exciting prospects.