Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Gabriel Moreno thriving in the Venezuelan Winter League

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 02: A detailed view of Major League Baseballs prior to the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 2, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 02: A detailed view of Major League Baseballs prior to the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 2, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Blue Jays #8th ranked prospect Gabriel Moreno is spending this Winter with the Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League and is putting up impressive numbers in the process.

Signed in 2016 as an international free agent, Venezuelan native Gabriel Moreno has climbed up the Toronto Blue Jays prospect charts over the past few years and is starting to turn some heads in the organization.

Moreno began his Blue Jays career in 2017 in the Dominican Summer League before joining the stateside farm system in 2018, playing for both the Gulf Coast Blue Jays and the Bluefield Blue Jays. His season in Rookie League ball would see him slash .359/.395/.575 with four home runs and 36 RBI’s, walking seven times while striking out 20 times with an OPS of .970. In 2019, Moreno would see a promotion to the Class A Lansing Lugnuts, playing in 82 games for the Lugnuts and slashing an impressive .280/.337/.485 with 12 home runs, 52 RBI’s, and a .832 OPS.

Defensively, Moreno has been pretty solid behind the plate, finishing with a .997% and a .993% fielding percentage in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Known for his ability to be quick with his catch and release, Moreno would also finish with a 38% and a 33% caught stealing percentage for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, an impressive statistic for a tough position.

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With COVID-19 derailing the minor league season in 2020, Moreno would join the Blue Jays alternate training site and now finds himself on the Cardenales de Lara roster in the Venezuelan Winter League to make up for some lost game time this year.

In 16 games with the Cardenales, Moreno has continued his impressive run in the batter’s box, slashing an impressive .373/.471/.508 with one home run and 11 RBI’s. He has also been a wall behind the plate, with a perfect 1.000% fielding percentage with 43% caught runners stealing percentage, throwing out three of seven runners with only one passed ball in 15 games (he played one game at first base). Moreno has also logged the most game behind the plate for the Cardenales this season, contributing 79 putouts and nine assists to the team so far this year.

Estimated to reach the majors in 2022, Moreno finds himself in a deep pool of catchers within the Toronto Blue Jays roster alongside Alejandro Kirk, Riley Adams, Reese McGuire, and current roster catcher Danny Jansen. While he is a few years younger than the other catchers mentioned above, Moreno should hopefully progress and most likely put the Blue Jays into a tough spot when he is ready to reach the majors.

With Kirk already knocking on the MLB roster’s door and Riley Adams receiving high praise from Baseball America, it will be interesting to see if the organization chooses to move any of their catchers or keep developing them and finding a place for any of their catchers still developing in the farm system.

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If Moreno can continue to produce great numbers next season for what most likely will be with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the young receiver will be one to keep an eye on within the Blue Jays farm system.

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