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Gabe Moreno, Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, and Nate Pearson make Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 Prospectus list

While the stupid lockout is still ongoing, it’s that time of year when prospect lovers like myself get to be angry about sites underrating our prospects. Let’s talk about Baseball Prospectus’ list and how they underrated Gabriel Moreno massively.

Here are the four Blue Jays prospects that rank in the Top 101…

Gabriel Moreno #22

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Jordan Groshans #60

Orelvis Martinez #62

Nate Pearson #73

My immediate reaction is, “why the heck is Gabriel Moreno so low?”. Regardless of where the soon-to-be 22-year-old catcher played in the 2021 season, he had success. Before a hand injury, Moreno hit .280/.337/1.092 with 8 home runs in Double-A. Furthermore, the converted shortstop threw out 43.75% of runners in 32 stolen base attempts. He profiles as a good hitter with power with an excellent arm. 

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He didn’t play much to end the minor league season, but he was key to Mesa winning the Arizona Fall League. In 100 plate appearances, Moreno slashed .329/.410/.904, had 11 doubles and 18 RBIs, and added a homer for good measure. Furthermore, Moreno had as many walks as strikeouts, as he had thirteen each. No one even attempted to run on him. 

His success continued in the Venezuelan Winter League as he slashed .297/.397/.758. While his slash line decreased, it is important to remember that he was -7.3 years younger than the average catcher. Even with the injury, he had an incredibly successful 2021 and he should be much higher than 22nd.

Mar 13, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Gabriel Moreno (70) runs to first base on a fielders choice during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Which catchers rank higher than Moreno?

According to their list, there are three catching prospects who are better than Gabriel, including Adley Rutschman, Francisco Alvarez, and Henry Davis. Rutschman is reasonable, as he had a fantastic season in Triple-A, however, the same can not be said for Alvarez and Davis.

Alvarez, who is 20, had a decent season at the High A level. He had a slash line of .247/.351/.889 with 22 home runs in 333 plate appearances. He takes walks at a decent rate (12%), but also strikes out 24.6% of the time. Defensively, he is nowhere near Moreno’s level as he threw out only 22.66% of base stealers in 75 attempts. Furthermore, the 20-year-old allowed 13 passed balls (Gabriel Moreno didn’t allow one all season). There is no doubt he is a promising prospect, but to say he’s better than Gabriel Moreno is a massive stretch.

As for Henry Davis, it is my belief that college drafted players are incredibly overrated on their debut prospect ranking. The difference between the college game and the professional game is immense. One big reason for this is because college players use aluminum bats, meaning that the 22-year-old Davis has to adjust to using wooden bats. 

The likelihood of Henry developing into an everyday catcher is very high as he was fantastic in college. However, Davis has played eight professional games whereas Gabriel Moreno has played 249 professional games. Until Davis shows that he can translate college success into professional success, it is also a reach to say that he is the better prospect.

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Other Jays players…

As mentioned at the top, Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez, and Nate Pearson all rank in this list. Let’s briefly go over them.

The upcoming season will be a big one for 22-year-old Jordan Groshans. He’ll likely start the season at Triple-A and it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue his success. In 316 plate appearances in Double-A, he slashed .291/.367/.817 adding 7 home runs. If he can add more power to his game, we could see him develop into a very useful player for the Jays.

Orelvis Martinez is a generational player. I’ve gotten flack for saying that before, but the 20-year-old shortstop is power personified. I spoke to his former teammate in Low A, and he told me that Orelvis’ goal was to hit 30 home runs in 2021. Sadly, the young man just fell short, only hitting 28 home runs in 451 plate appearances. He made the jump to High A as a 19-year-old, and after an adjustment period, the then 19-year-old hit 9 home runs despite being young for the level. He’ll likely start the season in High A.

I reckon this will be the last season of Nate Pearson being a prospect. This is a make-or-break season for the 25-year-old right-handed flamethrower. Pearson finished the season in the bullpen, pitching 12.2 innings with a K/9 of 14.21 (and BB/9 of 4.97). He also had a solid ERA of 2.84. This brings up the debate of whether or not he should be in the bullpen or a starter. However, I think it’s fair to say that this season will be the last time he’s on these prospect lists.

Other tidbits…

In return for Jose Berrios, the Minnesota Twins acquired Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. 

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Starting with the latter, the 21-year-old right-hander failed to make Baseball Prospectus’ list due to an abysmal 2021 season. For the Jays’ Double affiliate, he posted a 5.76 ERA and 3.79 FIP. Furthermore, he had an increased BB/9 of 5.16. His struggles worsened for the Twin’s Double-A affiliate as he posted an ERA of 6.75 and FIP of 3.98. 

More worryingly, however, was his eight walks in 8 IP for the team. 53.1 innings pitch doesn’t define a career, but he’ll need to turn it around to get into the good graces of sports journalists like myself. Here’s to hoping that he turns it around in 2022.

Austin Martin played 93 games in 2021 at the Double-A level and finished with a slash line of .270/.414/.796. However, there are some worrying signs. For example, he hit 10 home runs for Vanderbilt in 2019 with aluminum bats, but he only hit 5 in his first season with wooden bats. Also, when we look deeper into his high on-base percentage of .414, we can see a big issue. He was hit with a pitch 24 times in 418 plate appearances, and when you remove that, his OBP drops to .309.

Austin Martin ranks 52nd on Baseball Prospectus’ list, but it’s becoming ever more clear that the Jays won this trade.

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As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.