Three Blue Jays prospects dominating Arizona Fall League

·5 min read
Catcher Gabriel Moreno is one of three Blue Jays in the Fall-Stars Game in Arizona. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Catcher Gabriel Moreno is one of three Blue Jays in the Fall-Stars Game in Arizona. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The Toronto Blue Jays will have a trio of representatives at this year's Fall Stars Game.

Catcher Gabriel Moreno, infielder Spencer Horwitz and reliever Graham Spraker will compete among the best of the 2021 Arizona Fall League on Nov. 13.

The Blue Jays sent a total of seven prospects to Arizona this year.

The league was created as a way to ensure prospects would still get reps after the end of minor-league seasons without having to exit the United States to do so. Past Fall Stars players include New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso, Tampa Bay Rays breakout starter Shane Baz, and MLB all-stars such as Mike Trout, Ronald Acuña Jr. and, of course, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Here's how Toronto's prospects fared in the Arizona Fall League this year, starting with the three Fall Stars themselves.

Gabriel Moreno — C

.333/.421/.524 | 1 HR | 14 RBIs | 11 BB | 11 K

Moreno looked like a future superstar since the Fall League began back on Oct. 13. In addition to his stellar numbers at the plate — achieved in just 63 at-bats so far — the catching prospect turned heads with his defence, blocking pitches and throwing out runners.

The 21-year-old spent most of 2021 in double-A New Hampshire, closing out the year with a scorching .367 average and 1.060 OPS along with eight homers and 45 RBIs in an injury-shortened campaign.

Moreno is expected to start next year in Buffalo and could get a call-up shortly after that. He is MLB Pipeline's No. 32 overall prospect and the Blue Jays' top farm player.

Spencer Horwitz — 1B

.386/.478/.509 | 1 HR | 12 RBIs | 9 BB | 9 K

A 24th-round pick in 2019, Horwitz tore through high-A ball this year and earned a promotion to New Hampshire. In the desert, the 23-year-old had his speed on full display, stealing four bases through the first month.

Horwitz is an extremely patient hitter, which shows in his .478 on-base percentage — the third-highest in the AFL.

The first baseman does not place among the Blue Jays' Top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. A Fall Star nod may change that.

Graham Spraker — RHP

0.00 ERA | 14 K | 2 BB | 0.43 WHIP | .071 avg | 9.1 IP

You read that right: Zero.

Spraker hasn't allowed a single run in the AFL through 9.1 innings pitched in relief. He also has three saves in three opportunities and has yielded just two hits in the entire competition.

The 26-year-old Arizona native was selected by the Blue Jays in the 31st round of the 2017 draft. Spraker began his minors career as a starter, but switched to the bullpen full-time in 2021. It's worked out well, as he dominated double-A and earned a brief promotion to Buffalo in August.

Leo Jimenez — SS/2B

.194/.409/.290 | 0 HR | 4 RBIs | 8 BB | 7 K

It's been a disappointing month for the Blue Jays' 11th-ranked prospect.

Jimenez has only seen 31 at-bats in Arizona so far, and has failed to perform at the same level he did in low-A Dunedin this year, where he finished with a .315 average, .897 OPS and 19 RBIs over 54 games.

But at 20 years old, the Panama native is still young and bound for inconsistencies, so there's no reason to panic about his AFL stat line.

Michael Dominguez — RHP

6.11 ERA | 20 K | 11 BB | 1.58 WHIP | 2.46 avg | 17.2 IP

Twenty strikeouts over 17.2 innings is not too shabby, but Dominguez has struggled with virtually everything else over his five AFL starts.

Primarily a fastball-slider pitcher, the 21-year-old can generate plenty of swings and misses when he's on. But leave too many hanging sliders above the plate and hitters will be quick to figure it out.

Dominguez was a 15th-round pick in 2017 and signed with the Blue Jays out of high school. He has yet to pitch above high-A.

Cre Finfrock — RHP

8.44 ERA | 10 K | 12 BB | 2.16 WHIP | .262 avg | 10.2 IP

There haven't been many positives in Finfrock's Arizona stint.

The 25-year-old is sort of a rarity: Drafted in the 26th round by the Milwaukee Brewers, Finfrock opted to go to the University of Central Florida, where he had to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Four years later, he dropped to the 29th round in the MLB draft, when he signed with Toronto.

The starter-turned-reliever dealt with injuries through 2021 and was limited to just five appearances and 3.2 innings between Dunedin and New Hampshire.

Brody Rodning — LHP

9.35 ERA | 11 K | 5 BB | 2.08 WHIP | .342 avg | 8.2 IP

Just like his minor-league career, Rodning's AFL campaign shows great strikeout potential, alongside some blatant inconsistencies.

The 25-year-old got off to a decent start in the desert, with no runs allowed and seven strikeouts through his first 5.1 innings, but things quickly unravelled in his latest outings.

Rodning pitched in double-A last season and didn't necessarily stand out from the pack there, either.

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