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Blue Jays: What if prospect Gabriel Moreno was moved to third base?

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - MARCH 13: Gabriel Moreno #70 of the Toronto Blue Jays swings at pitch during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles during a spring training game at TD Ballpark on March 13, 2021 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - MARCH 13: Gabriel Moreno #70 of the Toronto Blue Jays swings at pitch during the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles during a spring training game at TD Ballpark on March 13, 2021 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Currently ranked as the organization’s #7 top prospect, Gabriel Moreno is one of the top players in the Blue Jays farm system this season and leads numerous offensive categories on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and across the league.

Through 29 games this season, Moreno is slashing .388/.438/.690 with eight home runs and 40 RBI with his 1.128 OPS leading the AA-Northeast League. He also leads the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and RBI through 116 at-bats. Since making his professional debut back in 2017, the righty slugger owns a .310/.356/.505 line through 183 games with 24 home runs and 145 RBI.

Defensively, Moreno has spent the majority of his career behind the plate and possesses a cannon for an arm, throwing out 13 of 30 base runners this year and owns a career 36.9% caught stealing percentage since 2017. He also has yet to make an error this year and sports a .996 fielding percentage through 671.1 innings.

Toronto Blue Jays prospect Gabriel Moreno took reps at third base on Sunday, and while the move may not be permanent, what if the organization decided to move one of their top prospects to the hot corner moving forward?

When the Venezuelan product signed with the Blue Jays back in 2016, Moreno was a shortstop, with the club moving him to the catcher position as soon he reported to camp. Known for his bat and athleticism, Moreno spent last season at the alternate training site and impressed quite a few members of the management and coaching staff. His bat speed and ability to hit the ball to all areas of the outfield are promising to see, especially against AA pitchers this year.

On Sunday night, the 5’11 slugger was not suiting up behind home plate, but rather taking up third base, a position he has never played professionally since signing with the Blue Jays. While he did play shortstop prior to being signed, Moreno has spent the majority of his pro career as a catcher with some brief stints as a designated hitter.

Moving Moreno to third base is an interesting move, one that seems a bit puzzling at first glance but also makes sense once you look at the overall picture.

Right now, the Blue Jays do have quite a few talented infield prospects like Jordan Groshans, Miguel Hiraldo, Otto Lopez, and Orelvis Martinez in the farm system, but most of them are middle infielders and none have really entrenched themselves as a third baseman for the long haul.

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On the active roster, the Blue Jays have had a trio of players occupy the hot corner this season in Cavan Biggio, Santiago Espinal, and Joe Panik, with Biggio struggling to find consistency defensively while Espinal has been used more as a bench player.

Having Moreno get reps at third base makes sense considering how well he is playing but also because of how stacked the catching prospects are within the Blue Jays system.

Alejandro Kirk and Riley Adams are potential major league catchers with current starter Danny Jansen still in the mix, even with his tough to look at slash line.

If Moreno was to move to the infield, the Blue Jays would be able to keep a bat-first type of player like Kirk or Adams on the roster and as the main catcher without having to move someone to a designated hitter role or have them not play consistently.

This would make an already potent Jays lineup featuring Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, and Bo Bichette that much stronger if Moreno can continue to play well as he progresses through the farm system. Throw in other prospects like Jordan Groshans at shortstop (if Marcus Semien does not return next season) or Austin Martin in the outfield, and the Jays’ have the possibility to create a very scary batting order over the next three to five seasons.

This would be a risky move as the front office would be banking on Kirk/Adams securing the starting catcher position or Jansen finding his bat, as well as hoping that Moreno can find his footing at third base and not become a defensive liability. The front office would also be putting some serious bets into hoping Moreno can continue to hit well as he progresses towards the big leagues, a notion that doesn’t seem far-fetched given his current stat line but is a possibility that he could stumble against more established arms.

For now, it will be interesting to see if the Blue Jays continue to have Gabriel Moreno keep taking reps at third base or if they move him back behind the plate over the next week. It really depends on how the front office views the likes of Kirk or Adams being a starter or if they are ok with carrying Jansen on the major league roster, hoping his bat catches up to his defensive ability.

This last Sunday could be just an outlier to allow other infielders a day off and just blown out of proportion, but the “what if’s” are just something to consider if the Jays’ are serious about keeping him at third base and how the team could shape up with him progressing through that position instead of at home plate.

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No matter what position he players, if Moreno can keep putting up absurd numbers and hopefully continue to dominate over the next month, it will be tough to keep him in AA, whether or not the next move is to the Buffalo Bisons or in the major leagues.