Blue Jays' Gabriel Moreno Will Be Ready For Anything
On the final day of the regular season, Gabriel Moreno started behind the plate in the first game of a doubleheader against the Orioles and then bounced between left field, second base and third base in the second.
In part, he was simply plugging holes as his team rested regulars ahead of the playoffs. But it was also a glimpse into a his potential future.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins acknowledging that Moreno beginning next season in the minor leagues “is not our best outcome, most likely, given his progress,” and that creativity may be needed with a crowded catching situation.
“We have to be open to everything,” Atkins said. “That's why you've seen him play in different positions. But we have to be open to any way to maximize our 40-man roster at this point, and (catching) is clearly an area of depth.”
The 22-year-old Moreno is the club’s top prospect. He spent most of a September callup on the bench, stuck behind all-star Alejandro Kirk and the established Danny Jansen. As the month wore on, he began regularly taking fly balls in the outfield and grounders in the infield, as the Blue Jays sought to leverage his athleticism in case need arose during the final month.
While a trade to ease the logjam is very possible, as things stand Moreno’s only other pathway to the majors is in a creative super-utility role. In two stints with the Blue Jays this season, he batted .319/.356/.377 in 25 games, hitting his first home run on the final day of the season.
“Finally I got it,” he said through interpreter Hector Lebron. “I’ve been working very hard for this and especially this past offseason and during the season, I worked a lot on my offense and it’s paying off.”
As for his four-position day, Moreno said: “(I'm) grateful to have the opportunity to play all of these positions. I can say I have the ability to play different positions and I worked for that. I'm full of emotions. But I did have fun.”