Out of everything on my 2022 Blue Jays bingo card, Gabriel Moreno getting reps in centre field was definitely not on it.
Per Sports Illustrated’s Ethan Diamandas, Blue Jays Nation’s #2 overall prospect Gabriel Moreno has been getting repetitions at centre field.
This comes as quite a shock to me. In terms of value to the team, Moreno’s most valuable position is in fact catcher. However, he has been up with the Blue Jays since September 7th and has yet to register a plate appearance with the team since the recall.
This isn’t the first time that the organization has tried to broaden Moreno’s versatility, as he played a game at third base with the Fisher Cats and two games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the 2021 season.
Furthermore, this is the first time that Moreno has gotten repetitions in centre as per Diamandas.
Moreno isn’t a prototypical catcher, as he actually has average speed, reflected by him being seven for 8 in stolen base attempts in Triple A. Furthermore, he’s in the 57th percentile in sprint speed per Baseball Savant, getting to first base in 3.94 seconds on average.
Many prospect sites noted that Gabriel Moreno is also the most athletic catcher since JT Realmuto. In fact, when the Blue Jays converted him from a shortstop to a catcher when they signed him back in 2016. Moreno also has fantastic defensive instincts, which will help him tremendously in centre field if he ever needs to play there.
His best attribute would have to be his arm. In the minors this season, he has a 40.90 caught stealing percentage, a great number.
Moreno didn’t quite hit like a top prospect in the majors this season, registering a .276/.300/.293 slash line with no homers in 60 plate appearances. He avoided the strikeout with an 11.7 K%, but didn’t draw many walks with a 3.3 BB%.
He did have much more success with the Bisons, as he’s slashed .315/.386/.420 in 267 plate appearances, where he’s added three home runs for a wRC+ of 120. His 9 BB% is higher, while his 16.9 K% also increased at the level. His power has seen a decrease, however, as he hit eight in just 145 plate appearances with New Hampshire in 2021 before thumb surgery essentially ended his season.
This begs the question, why now?
I have a few theories as to why they’re looking to increase his versatility. The first is the fact that the Jays already have two above average catcher. Another reason is that perhaps Lourdes Gurriel Jr’s injury is more serious than we think. Another theory, and much less likely, is that one of the corner outfielders will be getting moved in the off season, and George Springer will slot in at right field. It seems likely to me that they want to give Moreno at bats before the season ends, and if he can help at a position of need, then it benefits the team big time.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.