Although Wednesday’s pair of games may be meaningless for the standings, the same can’t be said about a few Blue Jays rookies!
In the Top of the 6th inning in game one of the doubleheader, the 22-year-old catcher hit his first career home run to the opposite field. The rocket had a 102.5 mph exit velocity, darting over the heads of the centre fielder and the right fielder.
This season, the catcher (who has gotten reps at centre field) is slashing .308/.338/.369 this season with the Blue Jays. The hit first catcher also has a low 11.8 K% with a 4.4 BB% in 68 big league plate appearances.
Considered a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball, Moreno slashed .315/.386/.420 in 267 Triple A plate appearances. He added three homers and had a 9 BB% and a 16.9 K% for a wRC+ of 120.
The lack of power has been somewhat of a concern for Moreno. In his brief time with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in 2021, he hit eight homers in just 145 plate appearances. He also slashed .373/.441/.651 with a 9.7 BB% and a 15.2 K% for a wRC+ of 192. His 2021 was essentially cut short when he was hit by a pitch, breaking his thumb.
In terms of defense, Gabriel Moreno has a Catcher Defensive Adjustment of 1 with the Blue Jays, the second highest out of the five catchers the Jays have deployed.
The biggest question is whether or not the Jays will include him on the playoff roster. The Jays have utilized a lineup that sees both Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen in the lineup. Do they add him solely to make sure they can pinch-run for Kirk? I don’t think they do that, as the worst-case scenario is that they lose their DH if one of the catchers gets injured.
In the playoffs, using two catchers in the lineup is risky, as you have a lot less of a margin for error., so I could be wrong here. Even if he’s not included, the Jays should keep him in the clubhouse to experience playoff baseball, sort of how the Yankees allowed Derek Jeter to stick around during their 1995 playoff run.
Is the homer a sign of things to come next season? Hopefully. However, the Jays will have a catcher’s dilemma coming into 2023. Kirk has been one of, if not the best, all-around catchers in 2022. Furthermore, Jansen has been fantastic with the bat all season.
What does that mean for Moreno? Well, he’s certainly athletic enough to play all over the field, as he was originally a shortstop. Furthermore, the Jays could look to make Jansen a full-time designated hitter, or perhaps trade him while he’s hot.
Also of note:
Otto Lopez continues to swing a hot bat. He finished game one of the doubleheader going 3-3 (all singles) with a walk. In all five of his plate appearances this season, he has reached base. Lopez is another candidate to make the playoff roster, as he’s a versatile contact hitter.
He’ll definitely be in play come 2023, as he’s done all he can in the minor leagues.
I mentioned earlier in the article that Gabriel Moreno was getting some reps in centre field. Well, he is starting in left field in the second game of the doubleheader, the first time he’s ever done so professionally.
Increasing his versatility is a way that Moreno could potentially find himself on the playoff roster.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Moreno and Lopez have two of the best hit tools for prospects. The third player to note is Spencer Horwitz, who’ll have to be added to the 40-man roster.