It was a different and interesting world in the Blue Jays farm system this year.
The first real changes to the minor leagues in over half a century took some getting used to. Gone were the traditional names of leagues that dated back to the 1800s (hopefully to return), and there were some pace-of-play rule changes to get used to. Buffalo played half a season in Trenton, Vancouver played a full season in Oregon, and Low A Dunedin used so many pitchers that pitching coach Drew Hayes needed to regularly consult his spreadsheet to keep track of who’s who.
The system graduated Alejandro Kirk, Nate Pearson, Santiago Espinal, and Alek Manoah to the big club. That’s not a bad haul. The top prospect list has undergone a change at the top, and while that post is still a few weeks away, let’s look at the top players at each position in the system, along with one number (or set of them) that stood out for each player.
C Gabriel Moreno
Moreno was on his way to consideration for minor league player of the year when he broke his thumb in late June. A premium athlete, there is no doubt that he is indeed the Blue Jays catcher of the future, and should compete for the starting job next spring.
Moreno drew raves for his work at the alt site in 2020, and he showed an improved approach at the plate. No longer was his a see the ball/hit the ball approach – Moreno saw a little over four pitches per plate appearance this year, the highest of his career. Perhaps as a result, he posted a career-high (9.7%) walk rate. Moreno was letting the ball travel at the plate as well, and was using his bat-to-ball skills to use the whole field more. Before his injury, Moreno slashed .373/.441/.651, and had a lot of people asking what he was still doing in AA.
Behind the plate, Moreno flashed future Gold Glove skills. His receiving, blocking, and throwing skills are elite, and anyone who watches even a few innings can’t help but notice the leadership role he takes.
A guy who played in the Jays organization sent this to us in June:
There is every reason to believe Moreno could be the best backstop the Blue Jays have ever produced.
BY THE NUMBERS:
Moreno’s pull/centre/oppo rate.
We’ll tease this one out a bit. Check back tomorrow for our choice for First Base.