Gabriel Moreno is the perfect example of a player who, when given some time and some added reps, can make a name for himself in ways you could never imagine.
He was signed from Venezuela for just $25,000 in 2016; not the biggest value in the world for a player that screams big league potential.
His first season of professional baseball was in the Dominican Summer League in 2017, where he posted less than spectacular numbers of .248/.274/.296 with five extra base hits, 17 RBI’s and only six walks. He didn’t hit any home runs and went 5-9 when it came to stealing bases, but he did only strike out five times in just 125 at-bats, which is a pretty impressive number given the level of talent he was playing against.
His next season would be his breakout campaign, as he would smash a staggering .359/.395/.575 along with 23 extra base hits (four of which were home runs), 36 RBI’s, and striking out just 20 times in 40 games. He would spend the season between two teams in the rookie league, the Gulf Coast Blue Jays and the Bluefield Blue Jays of the Appalachian League.
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The 2019 season would see Moreno end up promoted to Class A, where he play in 82 games for the Lansing Lugnuts. While not as impressive as his previous season, the Venezuelan catcher still generated a successful 280/.337/.485, playing in twice the amount of games compared to 2018. Moreno would also smack 12 home runs, 52 RBI’s, and saw his walks hit double digits for the first time at 22. This saw his ranking with the Blue Jays top prospect system rise from 22nd to 8th position over the course of the year.
Looking at his slash line, it is clear to see that Moreno does love to put the ball in play, hence the low strikeout and walks totals. The 2019 season was an improvement for Moreno in these categories, but free swinging types can become an issue once hitters start to play against tougher pitchers in the minor league system. He has proven that his eye at the plate is to be admired, but he’ll need to keep the bat on his shoulder more when border line pitches start to become more difficult to hit the further he moves up the ladder.
His defence and his arm have been described as average, but he makes up for it with his quick catch and release behind the plate. Improving the arm strength would be a great addition to the already successful release point, and the continuous improvement of blocking and framing as a catcher will hopefully transition well in his development through the Blue Jays farm system.
As it sits right now, Moreno is projected to fit in well as a backup catcher on the MLB roster, and it will be up to him if he can prove to be a good fit for the regular day job.
While this list is by no means the only international prospects within the Toronto Blue Jays system, these three are currently the top three ranked within the Blue Jays system. Other notable international players include Miguel Hiraldo, Alejandro Kirk, and Leonardo Jimenez.