The Blue Jays are calling up top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno, according to Daniel Álvarez-Montes of El Extrabase. Keegan Matheson of MLB.com adds that Moreno’s call-up is likely to coincide with Toronto’s upcoming weekend series in Detroit. No 40-man moves will be required to facilitate Moreno’s debut, as the young catcher was added to the team’s roster back in 2020.
Signed as an international free agent in 2016, the 22-year-old Moreno has seen his stock sore after an excellent 2021 showing. Entering the 2022 season both Baseball America and MLB.com ranked Moreno as the seventh best prospect in baseball after previously missing top prospect lists (and the 2020 season) entirely.
Through 32 games last season at Double-A, Moreno hit an otherworldly .373/.441/ .651 with eight home runs and a manageable 22 strikeouts. A right thumb fracture limited the amount of regular season reps given to the Jays’ top prospect, but it didn’t stop him from receiving a promotion to Triple-A at the end of the year. An additional 100 plate appearances of .329/.410/.494 hitting in the Arizona Fall League, against older competition no less, only helped to reinforce the hype.
Moreno’s 2022 season hasn’t been quite as powerful as last season’s performance, but a .323/.377/.406 showing against Triple-A competition was clearly enough to impress Toronto’s top brass. Those 35 games will net Moreno his first big league call-up, but it remains to be seen what position he’ll be manning when the decision becomes official.
Primarily a catcher with a strong arm, Moreno has received the odd start at DH and third base in recent years to get his right-handed bat into teams’ lineups. With Alejandro Kirk producing at an elite level from behind the plate and offseason acquisition Matt Chapman locked in at third, there doesn’t appear to be a slam dunk place on the field for Moreno to helm.
Catcher Zack Collins was recalled just yesterday to fill in for injured catcher Danny Jansen (who was having a strong season in his own right), a move that perhaps signals the three catchers will shuttle between catcher and DH duties for the time being. If nothing else, Moreno’s call-up figures to place some pressure on a number of bench players and outfielders (who have seen reps at the DH position) who have underperformed offensively thus far.