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2023 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews: #2, Gabriel Moreno

Corbin Carroll is probably glad Toronto did Gabby dirty late in the 2022 season

Syndication: Arizona Republic Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

If you don’t know who Gabriel Moreno is by this point, I’m not sure what to tell you. He was pivotal to Arizona’s success in 2023, his first season in the desert. Originally signed and developed by Toronto, Moreno was the headline piece returned to Arizona for the services of Daulton Varsho on December 23, 2022. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was the other piece Toronto sent Arizona’s way.

2023 Overview

  • Rating: 9.11 out of 10
  • 2023 MLB Stats: .284/.339/.408, 7HR, 29BB, 75K, 380PA (341AB), 104 OPS+ in 111 games
  • 2023 Postseason Stats: .238/.304/3444, 4HR, 6BB, 20K, 70PA (63AB), 101 wRC+ in 17 Games
  • Date of Birth: February 14, 2000 (23)
  • 2023 Salary: $722,500
  • 2024 Status: Controlled through 2028 via arbitration

Vote Breakdown

Due to Toronto having Moreno debut in late 2022, he used up his rookie eligibility before donning Sedona Red. Despite mostly riding the bench from June 11 on, he only accrued 69 at bats and 73 plate appearances in 2022. As such, the stated plan for Arizona in Spring 2023 was to have Carson Kelly monopolize catching opportunities for the year with Moreno as the main (and hopefully only) backup. This would help him develop as he had never caught a full season’s worth of games before. Unfortunately, Kelly broke his arm in Spring and Moreno was thrust into the starting role early.

He............. BLOSSOMED!

Until July 23, 2023 Moreno was a mainstay behind the plate. The team played well with him there (.550 on the season). But near the end of July he hit the Injured List with Left Shoulder Inflammation. He returned on August 13 and played most of the rest of the season. He did go on the Paternity List from September 11-13 (Congrats Moreno family!) He also played every game of the Post Season (for those of you who weren’t watching, that was an additional 17 games).

His 2023 highlights are too numerous to list. His pitchers rave about him. His coaches do the same. The Front Office obviously likes him since they targeted him in the Varsho trade. His personality is evident every time he’s on camera. Fans have given him his nicknames: various spellings of Gabi (Gabbi, Gaby, Gabby, etc).

Beyond his personality and rave reviews though, you’ll find a Gold Glove winning Catcher. Debate his ability to receive pitches (and believe me, people do...), but there is no contest when it comes to controlling the running game. In 2023, the success rate of stolen base attempts was 80%. In other words, runners beat catchers A LOT more often than not. But Moreno led all of baseball with a 48% caught stealing rate (according to StatCast which only calculates based on attempts at Second). He was worth 9 Catcher CS Above Average. Looking at that particular leaderboard, Endy Rodriguez of the Pittsburgh Pirates will be his main competition moving forward, although he is out all of 2024 after getting Tommy John Surgery; he injured himself swinging in the Dominican Winter League.

Moreno is a Top Catcher by every StatCast defensive metric except framing. Between his Gold Glove and Post Season power surge, expect Moreno to be in every discussion about top catchers in the game to begin 2024.

2024 Outlook: Mike Hazen has already stated he wants Moreno to play in basically the same number of games in 2024. The goal is 110-120 games now, which for a catcher is top of the line reliable. A replication of his offensive line would be perfect for the team, but as he’ll be 24 on February 14, some further development is not out of the question. Also unfortunately possible (arguably even likely) would be some negative regression as a second-year player. This is commonly referred to as a Sophomore Slump. Pitchers will be more prepared than ever for his swing. Additionally, he truly was asked to play more than he’d ever done before in 2023 and his body may not be fully ready for another onslaught like that. But the only way to make the body ready for it is to continue doing it. Regardless, hopes and expectations for Moreno ought to be high.

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