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Thursday, June 09, 2022

No. 4 prospect Gabriel Moreno to join Toronto

It’s the beginning of a new era behind the plate for the Toronto Blue Jays. Gabriel Moreno, the club’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 4 prospect in Major League Baseball, will join the club ahead of Friday’s series opener in Detroit, sources told on Wednesday night.

The club is still evaluating whether it will add Moreno to the roster for Game 1, but the 22-year-old will be activated during the series in Detroit.

Moreno received the news following Wednesday’s doubleheader with Triple-A Buffalo.

Moreno represents the Blue Jays’ catcher of the future with All-Star potential, a remarkable story of player development after he was signed out of Venezuela for $25,000 in 2016.

After bursting onto the scene in full-season ball with Single-A Lansing in 2019, Moreno’s true breakout took place in 2021 with Double-A New Hampshire. Prior to a hand injury cutting that season short, Moreno hit .373 with eight home runs and a 1.092 OPS.

In 36 games this year at Triple-A, Moreno was hitting .324 with a .784 OPS, while showing marked improvement against the running game by throwing out 54% of runners attempting to steal.

Has a team ever been this loaded at the catcher position?

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 09, 2022 at 11:11 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays, gabriel moreno

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: June 09, 2022 at 05:32 PM (#6080882)
I know absolutely nothing about Moreno -- far as I know, this is the first time I've known of his existence. But this looks like they're rushing the guy. He's had a solid 100 PA this year and an excellent 159 PA last year but of course nothing in 2020. He's had 31 starts at C this year, just 31 last year and of course none in 2020 (and just 54 in 2019). If it only takes 115 starts to turn a 19-yo at A ball into a ML-quality C, that will be quite unusual. (Yes, Bench, Pudge II, a few others.)

He certainly raked at AA last year in his 150 PA and he hit well in the fall league. This year's line is weird at 324/380/404 with just 1 HR in 150 PA. The K rate's only about 16% though so that's good to see. Of course the Jays have done well with their young hitters.
   2. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 09, 2022 at 07:12 PM (#6080914)
If it only takes 115 starts to turn a 19-yo at A ball into a ML-quality C, that will be quite unusual.

It would be the second time the Jays have done that this decade.

Alejandro Kirk went from A-ball to the majors in 2020, and is now the leading candidate to start the all-star game at the catcher position.
   3. John Northey Posted: June 09, 2022 at 07:57 PM (#6080918)
It is weird, after the Jays sucking forever at developing catchers they suddenly have an all-star in Kirk and a super-stud in Moreno to go with Danny Jansen who has slugged over 700 over the past 12 months when healthy (major condition). Both Moreno & Kirk were IFA signed in 2016 for about $25k each.

Kirk just 165 games in the minors including his 14 game injury rehab this year (so just 151 before being called up). But was at the extended spring camp in Toronto in 2020 before being called up.
Moreno also was at that camp in 2020, and has 227 games in the minors so far.

Whoever the scout(s) were who found these 2 deserve massive bonus' and a raise.

FYI: Danny Jansen (16th round pick) had 386 games in the minors including any rehabs (10 games from those I think).
   4. John Northey Posted: June 09, 2022 at 08:01 PM (#6080919)
FYI: Rutschman had 179 minor league games before being called up (he was a college 1st round pick, and is a year older than Kirk, 2 years older than Moreno). As a Jays fan I can safely say I'd rather have either of Kirk or Moreno over Rutschman.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 09, 2022 at 10:16 PM (#6080935)
Alejandro Kirk went from A-ball to the majors in 2020, and is now the leading candidate to start the all-star game at the catcher position.

Doesn't that make Moreno's promotion really odd? You bringing up a top prospect to play twice a week? That can't be good for his development.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: June 09, 2022 at 10:29 PM (#6080937)
As to Kirk ... maybe. Per this article his defensive rep and performance were quite poor coming into this season but he has improved it greatly.

Last year, he was on the roster for the first month, starting about half the games at C. He got hurt, missed about two months and spent another couple of weeks in the minors. Over the last 70 games, looks like 30 starts at C. So far this year, it's 28 of 55 starts (plus 13 at DH) and I assume it's partly only that many because Jansen has been hurt for most of the season. So remains to be seen if Kirk is a C who hits or a hitter who sometimes catches. Still, he obviously hasn't been so bad back there the Jays avoid him and, for sure, 124 minors starts is not a lot.

   7. Walt Davis Posted: June 09, 2022 at 10:43 PM (#6080939)
There is of course the general issue that we don't really measure C defensive value particularly well. Add the issue that none of us really have any clue how much guys developed in 2020. Catcher defense (other than game-calling maybe) is probably one of the things you can develop well in a camp situation ... as long as the pitchers in camp are throwing, the catchers in camp can be catching and learning the mechanics of the position.

Per b-r, Rutschman had just 109 starts at C in the minors. Joey Bart had 161 plus 27 in the majors in 2020. B-R rates both defenses as OK though, it's the bats that have been the problem so far. But JT Realmuto got 360 even though he skipped AAA. again, 2020 messes things up and I don't know if there's any sense out there how much college catching helps defensive development.

I suppose that with fewer singles, fewer SBs, more HRs, C defense may be less important these days too, including WP and PB. I suppose maybe pitch framing is something you only really learn in the majors.
   8. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: June 09, 2022 at 11:00 PM (#6080942)
I'd long assumed, and still assume, that at least one of these guys is going to get traded. How about one of these guys to the Astros for... their prospects don't look so good... Christian Javier? Luis Garcia? Their rotation is pretty good and their catcher position is a black hole.
   9. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 09, 2022 at 11:23 PM (#6080948)
Doesn't that make Moreno's promotion really odd? You bringing up a top prospect to play twice a week? That can't be good for his development.

With Jansen's injury expected to keep him out for 3-4 weeks, he's going to get a lot of playing time (unless he craters). The Jays follow the strict "no day games after night games" rule for their catchers, and they've also played two catchers in a game (one at DH) about 40% of the time this year. Some of that was when they were carrying 3 catchers, but a lot of it wasn't.
   10. Rally Posted: June 10, 2022 at 07:56 AM (#6080965)
Has a team ever been this loaded at the catcher position?

1961 Yankees. Elston Howard hit .348 with 21 homers. Johnny Blanchard hit 21 coming off the bench. Then another 22 from 36 year old Yogi, who mostly played left. But all 3 did see time at catcher. Howard was 32, and Blanchard was 28 but never had another year remotely as good.

Looking at youngsters, I remember the Padres coming up with Sandy Alomar when they already had Santiago. The 1925 A’s had a pair of rookie catchers, Cochrane and Foxx. Obviously only one was able to stay behind the plate.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: June 10, 2022 at 04:46 PM (#6081042)
Has a team ever been this loaded at the catcher position?

Does Miguel Montero, David Ross and Willson Contreras on the 2016 Cubs count? No? Nevermind.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: June 10, 2022 at 05:08 PM (#6081046)
More seriously ... the 77 Royals had Porter (still just 25), Wathan and Buck Martinez. Of those three, Porter was the only real star -- Wathan had some very fine seasons and some not so fine; Buck never hit much and was always backup to half time but had a solid career. After they traded Buck away, they added Jamie Quirk to the mix although it looks like he didn't get much time at C until Porter was traded. Quirk is another C-SS ... no starts at SS but 22 appearances there.

Anyway, all told Porter had 6600 career PA, Wathan 2800, Buck 3100 and Quirk 2500. But the Royals didn't develop Porter, he already had 2000 PA under his belt when they acquired him (for Quirk and others oddly enough).

Porter had 2000 PA, 105 OPS+, 11 WAR, 4 WAA from 19-24. Where does that rank among super-young Cs? Obviously Bench (31 WAR!) and Rodriguez (18 WAR) must be the top 2. Freehan's at 10 WAR, 3 WAA -- his big years were 25-26. Yogi didn't start until 22 and his first big season was 25 too. Looks like Simmons (17) is #3 although he didn't become full-time until 21. Mauer didn't really get going until 22. There's probably some folks I'm forgetting that were better than Porter but he's one of those guys who was much better than folks now tend to remember.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 10, 2022 at 05:22 PM (#6081049)
Whitey Herzog signed Porter for the Cardinals in 1981 when they already had Ted Simmons coming off a 141 OPS+ season, and a young rookie named Terry Kennedy on the roster (and Jody Davis in AAA).

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