Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker, Gabriel Moreno, Alek Thomas named Gold Glove finalists
Oct 18, 2023, 6:15 PM
(Felisa Cardenas/Arizona Sports)
PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker, catcher Gabriel Moreno and center fielder Alek Thomas were named Gold Glove finalists for the 2023 season on Wednesday.
Walker is the defending Gold Glove first baseman in the National League, Thomas was nominated last year as a rookie and Moreno became an MLB regular for the first time this season.
“We’re very proud of those guys because a lot of hard work goes into all those good moments happening,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “… It speaks volumes about what is important to us in this organization, and I feel like we have more potential Gold Glovers in the future who are coming.”
No Diamondbacks catchers have ever won the Gold Glove, and the last outfielder to do so was David Peralta — who is a left field finalist for the Dodgers this year — in 2019.
The winners will be announced on Sunday, Nov. 5.
Walker and Paul Goldschmidt are the only two D-backs first basemen with Gold Gloves.
The veteran has been a steady force from routine plays to hot shots and difficult digs.
Walker led MLB first basemen this year in outs above average with 12 and fielding run value at nine, and Lovullo commended his improvement from the time he joined the organization.
“Christian Walker potentially winning a second Gold Glove in a row … the growth and development that he has shown since I’ve been here and he’s been here has been amazing,” Lovullo said. “That is really a lot of hard work and he’s absolutely spoiled us over there.”
Walker said the recognition was an honor, as he takes a lot of pride in his defense. It is something he puts time into before every game.
Christian Walker guns out the runner at home! 💪 pic.twitter.com/p0p2wXS1Lz
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 17, 2023
“Any ball I get in the game, I don’t want it to be the first version of that ball that I’ve seen that day,” Walker said. “I know it takes a toll on my body over the course of the season, but I feel like it’s an easy investment into my teammates and helping this team win.”
The other two NL first basemen nominated were Freddie Freeman of the Dodgers and Carlos Santana, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers this season.
Moreno was thrown into the deep end to start the season with Carson Kelly suffering a forearm fracture in spring training, and he quickly showed off an ability to throw out runners.
He finished the season first among qualified catchers in caught stealing percentage at 38% after the rules changed to encourage action on the bases. He threw out Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper in Game 2 of the NLCS on Tuesday.
“That’s great for me, being a finalist for the Gold Glove. It is something you work for,” Moreno said, translated from Spanish. “That is a prize that every baseball player wants to have.”
Run on Gabi at your own risk. 🤷 pic.twitter.com/ogTTtWobPL
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 18, 2023
General manager Mike Hazen said over the weekend that when the D-backs traded for Moreno last winter, they knew he could throw and had the right makeup for the organization. Hazen said Moreno’s pitch-calling has matured greatly, and Lovullo pointed out the preparedness his young catcher shows on a daily basis.
“I’ve seen him get better over the year with making pitches look like strikes and receiving and blocking and just controlling the game,” Walker said.
Moreno led all catchers with 20 defensive runs saved and finished in the 94th percentile in blocks above average.
He’ll be competing with San Francisco Giants rookie Patrick Bailey and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Thomas said he didn’t expect to be a finalist for the Gold Glove this year. He felt there were some tough plays he came up short on early this season, plus he was in Triple-A from May 17 to June 19.
But Lovullo described Thomas as someone who can cover foul line to foul line, and he showed off that range with highlight reel grabs to save runs for the Diamondbacks after coming back up.
Alek Thomas, you are something else. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/sKJRVpWB8O
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 20, 2023
But Thomas expects more out of himself.
“Definitely made some plays that are worthy of it, but I think once I get that full season in, I have a real chance,” Thomas said.
“I feel like for me, I haven’t reached my full potential. Not even close. I think there’s a lot more left in me and I think next year will be even better.”
Atlanta’s Michael Harris II and Colorado’s Brenton Doyle are the other two finalists.
Here are your NL finalists for the 2023 @RawlingsSports Gold Glove Awards.
— MLB (@MLB) October 18, 2023