Blue Jays: What Gabriel Moreno has to do to get to the big leagues
The performance from Blue Jays super-prospect Gabriel Moreno in Triple-A so far has been impressive, but there’s still no clear path to the big leagues for one of baseball’s top prospects.
That’s hardly the fault of the 22 year old, as he’s done his part to convince the Blue Jays that he’s ready for the next challenge in his baseball development. As of this writing Moreno has slashed .328/.384/.418 with the Buffalo Bisons, adding one home run, eight doubles, and 22 RBI over 32 games covering 122 at-bats. Every report you can find on the Blue Jays’ top prospect gushes about his ability and his future potential, and he’s backed up the hype with his performance on the field.
So why hasn’t there been more chatter about a potential promotion for Moreno in the near future? Simply put, the Blue Jays don’t really have a spot for him at the moment, and it’s a great problem to have.
The Blue Jays have have arguably the most enviable crop of catchers in baseball at the moment, with youth and upside to boot. Alejandro Kirk has been fantastic this season, and he’s among the leaders for American League catchers in fWAR at 1.3, trailing only Jonah Heim of the Rangers at 1.4. Danny Jansen isn’t all that far behind either, and considering he’s played just 17 games so far because of time spent on the IL, his 0.8 fWAR is even more impressive. Between the duo they’ve already earned 2.1 fWAR on the year, pacing the Blue Jays for more than six wins above replacement from the catching position.
With that in mind, what does Gabriel Moreno have to do to reach the big leagues?
The first answer is an obvious one, which is simply that he’ll have to wait his turn. At the moment I don’t think it would matter much if he was hitting .400 in Triple-A, the Blue Jays probably wouldn’t fix what isn’t broken with Jansen/Kirk and they don’t really have the room to carry three catchers. It also wouldn’t serve Moreno well to essentially be the third catcher on the big league roster, and his development would be better getting to play every day in the minor leagues.
That said, injuries happen, and it’s pretty comforting to know that if Kirk or Jansen has to spend any more time on the IL, the Blue Jays have a potential weapon at their disposal that’s waiting in the wings.
That also brings me to my second point about what Moreno has to do in order to reach the show, and that might be to stay versatile. So far the Blue Jays have been pretty focused on his work behind the plate on defence, but there was chatter back in the spring about him potentially playing third base as well. Matt Chapman’s not going anywhere either, but again, injuries happen, and having a bat like Moreno’s at the ready could be huge.
For the time being Moreno and the Blue Jays have the luxury of knowing that he won’t be rushed to the highest level, and can instead focus on refining his game as he prepares to take the final leap to the big leagues. When you’re as talented as Moreno is, you won’t be held back forever, but for now he’ll have to bide his time and wait for his MLB opportunity.