Jays' Moreno continues to impress in AFL

November 12th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If Gabriel Moreno is on a baseball field, odds are he is going to hit.

The league or the level may change, but the ability of the top Blue Jays prospect to impact a game from the batter’s box remains a constant. Moreno batted .359 over 40 games in 2018, hit .280 with an .823 OPS over 82 games in 2019 and was off to a torrid start in 2021 before a fractured thumb cost him two months of action.

In the Arizona Fall League, Moreno has continued to make loud contact. He’s hitting .348 through 17 games.

“I’m just sticking to my approach and doing what I’ve always done,” the No. 32 overall prospect said.

Moreno has been one of the AFL’s most consistent performers. He collected three RBIs and finished 3-for-6 with a run scored in Mesa’s 15-10 win over Salt River on Thursday night.

After grounding out in his first at-bat, the 21-year-old came through with a two-run double in the second and an RBI single in the third. He went the other way for a single in the seventh, notching his third three-hit effort of the fall in the process. Moreno has hits in nine of his past 10 games, including four multihit efforts.

What’s more, 11 of Moreno’s 24 hits have gone for extra bases and he leads the AFL with 10 doubles through 17 games.

“Just pitch by pitch [having] a good approach and if I get any hangers, hit them well,” he said of his mind-set in the box.

Signed for $25,000 in 2016, Moreno has proven to be quite a bargain for the Blue Jays. He slashed .373/.441/.651 through 32 games with Double-A New Hampshire prior to his injury this year. He returned to action late in the season and went 4-for-13 over five September contests before heading to Arizona to get more at-bats.

Moreno has more than taken advantage of the opportunity and demonstrates on a near-nightly basis that his quick, compact swing plays against advanced competition.

The catcher also has impressed evaluators with his work behind the plate. Although he served as the designated hitter Thursday, he showed off his arm strength behind the plate Wednesday night, firing a perfect strike to second base to catch a would-be base stealer.

“I feel really mobile and had a good throw yesterday to get the out,” he said.

While Moreno has already shown plenty this fall, he knows the league isn’t over yet. He is focused on finishing strong and then will start to look ahead to 2022.

“I want to finish up the AFL strong so next year I can come back and have a good Spring Training,” Moreno said.

Troy Johnston (Marlins), Luis Vazquez (Cubs) and Nelson Velazquez (CHC 29) drove in two runs apiece for Mesa. Logan Davidson (OAK 12) finished a perfect 3-for-3 with a 428-foot two-run homer.

Salt River’s sixth consecutive loss dropped the Rafters record to 7-17. Despite the outcome, several players had quality nights at the plate. Dominic Canzone (D-backs), Michael Toglia (COL 6), Brett Baty (NYM 2), Weston Wilson (Brewers) and David Hamilton (MIL 16) each had multihit performances.