Here is a fun sentence to start a post with: I don't believe that I've ever seen a Cardinals' position player prospect start the season the way that Moisés Gómez has in Springfield.
Other prospects have gone through impressive spans during the season. Last year alone, Luken Baker went through a span where he was hitting more homers than most minor league teams were. In the past, we've seen Nolan Gorman tear league after league apart when he gets hot. Hot streaks happen, but to start a season at a full season affiliate hitting the way that Moisés Gómez is currently raking is very special.
Even during the time of Cardinals legend and current Cubs relievers Rowan Wick's reign of slugging dominance against the now unaffiliated Appalachian League - a league that would have two levels between it and Springfield - doesn't touch what Moisés Gómez is doing.
Right now, according to this awesome tool that FanGraphs' RosterResource put together, Moisés Gómez is the #1 rated producer at the minor league level in the last 21 days, and he's #3 since the start of the minor league season. RosterResource czar Jason RR Martinez's tweet gives us the dirt on how the power ranking is put together:
For real, this is an awesome and fun thing to keep an eye on, and you should sign up and support FanGraphs if you can.
Over the years, I've been asked about a lot of prospects on a daily basis. These days, it seems like the only two questions that I get asked are either about Nolan Gorman's major league readiness or something like:
This happens all day, every day now. Three or four times per day I put together like a three tweet chain trying to explain who Moisés Gómez is and where he came from.
So, here is who Moisés Gómez is:
Let's start with the Fangraphs statistical rundown of his career:
Now, the scouting reports entering the 2022 seasons. First, from FanGraphs.
Let's start with 2019. The incredibly smart and talented Eric Longenhagen gives us the dope in this piece for the then-13th ranked prospect in the Rays organization:
Now, let's go to BASEBALL AMERICA. First, SUBSCRIBE TO BASEBALL AMERICA. That's how you get these reports. I actually feel like trash for putting it here, but I'm only doing it because of how long ago it was. So, to 2019 Baseball America write of Moisés Gómez we go.
As you can tell from the stats above, 2019 wasn't the nicest to our boy. Then again, The Florida State League is rarely kind to hitters. Even with the concerning numbers, it was encouraging that he was 6% more productive than league average in a league that he was still about two and a half years younger than on average.
As it goes with every season, there were lessons to learn from the 2019 season of Moisés Gómez. So, we move on to FanGraphs 2020 write-up of Moisés Gómez, who FanGraphs moved from the Rays prospect #13 to #25.
Now, let's go to Baseball America. They moved him back five spots, from 10th to 15th on the Rays top prospect list.
As I'm sure you know, the 2020 MiLB season didn't take place in any capacity because of COVID. So, we have nothing to learn about the 2020 version of Moisés Gómez.
Yet, this is a business so we move on to the 2021 prospect rankings. We'll start with FanGraphs again, who took the time off to move to move Moisés Gómez from prospect #25 on their Rays list to prospect #50. Which, honestly, the way that the Rays produce prospects, probably doesn't mean much as far as falls down boards go.
Now, back to Baseball America we go, where Moisés fell from prospect #15 to prospect #22 on their Rays rankings.
So, let's take another look at his stats during the 2021 season. They were not pretty:
Now in his 7th year in the Rays organization, the 2021 season was an object failure. It takes seven years for a player to gain their free agency in the minor leagues, and Gómez was clearly in need of a fresh start.
In November of 2021, the Cardinals signed Gómez to a minor league deal. from there, Gómez went to his home country of Venezuela and played in the Venezuelan Winter League. There, Gómez MASHED. That doesn't really mean anything at this point. Players like Gómez always seem to mash in the Caribbean Leagues. Still, the stats were impressive. Take a look at the last line via BASEBALL REFERENCE:
NOW, THE 2022 SEASON
All of this brings us to now. In spring, there wasn't much buzz about Gómez, so to see him blow the Texas League into 1000 pieces has come as even more of an unexpected surprise in part because of this. It also brings us back to how we started this post. There isn't a player in the minors doing what Gómez is doing. He is still about a year and a half younger than the AA average, so that's another positive.
There are a couple of things that are playing into this. First, I'll put some video of a swing from Gómez during spring of 2021. Look at his mechanics and his size.
Now, let's take a look at one of his swings from this season. We might as well go to his most recent homer:
There are three things that really stick out to me.
First, Gómez is clearly in better shape. He's lost some of that weight around his waste, and he's done it without compromising strength. That's a big "plus".
Second, you'll notice that Gómez has a more quiet load with his hands. His path is more direct because he isn't loading up. This is allowing his bat to stay in the zone longer with a more direct and quick swing.
Third, the most noticeable of it all, is the leg kick. Leading into this season, Gómez has had a pronounced leg kick for a timing mechanism. In 2021 when he struck out over 38% of the time, the pronounced leg kick had a lot to do with why Gómez couldn't get to outside breaking pitches, and why he was often fooled by high heat. He was bigger and slower, and that big leg action was hurting his timing.
SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? IS HE CAPABLE OF SUSTAINING THIS SUCCESS AND IS HE A REAL PROSPECT?
BEATS ME!!! I don't have the slightest idea what I'm doing most of the time. I think it's probably safe to bet that he isn't going to be able to keep up his home run pace, his .410 average, and his wRC+ of 244. But I do believe that there is enough here in 92 plate appearances - still an incredibly small sample - to believe that Gómez has at least turned a corner and rediscovered some of the tools and talents that made him a top prospect in the Rays organization.
What has impressed me the most watching Gómez is that he is adjusting within each at-bat in-game. You can see him adjusting and learning on the fly, and that's a rare skill. In a lot of ways in that regard, he reminds me of Elehuris Montero. There have been few hitters in the organization over the last few years that can adjust on the fly the way that Montero did when he was healthy and still in the organization.
At the same time, I can definitely see the upside that was brought up in Baseball America's write-up of him in which they brought up Marcell Ozuna. There is reason to believe that the Ozuna comp is still the ultimate upside for Gómez. It's probably unreachable because of how rare of a talent Ozuna is, but it would definitely be his top percentile outcome if everything goes exactly right moving forward. Ozuna was a decent outfielder with the Marlins (he won a gold glove but that award is kinda trash aside from 2020 when it was awarded because of metrics) before it all fell apart after being traded to the Cardinals. I've watched enough of Gómez in the field to feel comfortable grading his arm as well above average and potentially "plus". He's a clunky runner, but he isn't slow. He's definitely a corner outfielder.
I do think that there is some context that needs to be added to some of the success that he is having at AA. First, this is Gómez's second season in AA. It's a blanket fact that every player does better in their second season at a level. Also, specifically in the Texas League, AA is playing very hitter-friendly right now. Another thing, keep in mind that the talent level at each minor league level is still trying to find it's balance following the lost 2020 season. Last year, some teams were overly-aggressive with their promotions following the lost 2020 season. Other teams were cautious and some teams were more fluid. In addition, last year was the first season without teams at the short-season affiliated leagues because of minor league contraction. All of this is just to say that the minors are still trying to balance themselves out and figure themselves out still. Gómez has done some real damage against some pitchers that are top prospects, but he's also done some damage against pitchers that clearly aren't ready for the AA level just yet.
As the season progresses, I'll be keeping the closest eye on the strikeouts. Last week, it seemed like Gómez was getting a steady diet of sliders low and outside that he couldn't do much with, only to be finished off with fastballs up in the zone. While fastballs up in the zone still seem to be a vulnerability of his and he's still striking out on nasty sliders in that low-outside location, he's already adjusted to how he is being pitched to incredible results, including hitting homers in three consecutive games this week.
So, the key in all of this is that Gómez continues to make the adjustments. That's the name of the game. Even better, the thing that I love the most so far is that he isn't just hitting homers. Gómez is finding every possible way to help his team, going to the right field gap and hitting doubles and singles. He is just "ON" right now. He's not over-extending and he's confident in his abilities.
We are only one month into the Minor League season and the Cardinals have a certified sensation on their hands in outfield Moisés Gómez. His ability to maintain at least a portion of the success that he's had during the first month of the season is going to be a terrific storyline to following moving forward. What a terrific victory for the front office and the scouting department, the latter of which is the most underrated in all of baseball.
I just want to REMIND EVERYONE TO SUBSCRIBE TO FANGRAPHS AND TO BASEBALL AMERICA. Follow the links embedded in each name and do it. I do, and so should you. Also, BASEBALL REFERENCE never stops being awesome.
A big shout out, as always, to the incredible @Cardinalsgifs for his work on the cover of this post.
Thanks For Reading!!