Gabriel Moreno’s big arrival came at a strange time for the Blue Jays.
It’s teams like the Orioles, who occupy the basement of their division, that usually call up their elite prospects. Baltimore just did just that with Adley Rutschman, one of the few young players in baseball who has generated more excitement than Moreno lately.
For Toronto to promote the No. 4 MLB prospect in the middle of a winning season is not all that common, especially considering the talent they have at catcher.
Moreno’s debut over the weekend against the Tigers was a success, as the 22-year-old Venezuelan showed off some of his physical skills and hit the first hit of his career.
“It’s been a lot of emotions,” Moreno said in Detroit. “I will remember this moment for the rest of my life.”
Now it’s about winning. Today, Moreno is just another member of the 26-man roster trying to help the Blue Jays make the playoffs.
“It’s similar to [mexicano Alejandro] Kirk. They are the same,” said Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo, shaking a firm hand. “He is not nervous at the moment. Even in the first inning, you didn’t notice him being nervous or anything. He even visited the mound, which means he’s not nervous. It’s good to see that. He is well relaxed”.
For the players and coaches who have shared with him, that’s what has long drawn attention to Moreno’s game. He is still a youngster, full of energy, but he is able to slow down the game when necessary.
“He had some good at-bats against some good pitching,” Montoyo added. “I was impressed with that hit he hit down the middle of the field with a 100 mph fastball. That is not something that can be taught. It’s the same with Kirk.”
How things evolve from now on is up to Moreno. The Barquisimeto native will have every chance to succeed while Danny Jansen is out with a broken left hand. Expect to see Moreno and Kirk split the catching responsibility, with Kirk likely serving as designated hitter frequently when he’s not behind the plate. Using your second receiver as a DH always carries some risk, but given the way Kirk is playing, the Jays aren’t shy.
With Jansen’s return, talks about Moreno will resume, but it’s possible the club will leave all three on the roster.
Prospects aren’t finished products the day they hit the big leagues. Watching Kirk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in recent years has been a good lesson in that regard.
There are coaches in the Major Leagues for a reason; Moreno’s development can continue as a member of this roster, even if he doesn’t play regularly. This is as much about the team’s faith in Moreno as it is about the player himself.
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Moreno exhibits poise at the MLB level