2011 Reds / Minors

On Devin Mesoraco

Both John Fay and Mark Sheldon are talking about Cincinnati’s 2007 first-round draft pick, catcher Devin Mesoraco. From Sheldon’s piece:

“The first couple of years of struggling helped me, not that I want to do it again,” said Mesoraco, the 15th overall pick in the 2007 Draft. “I always knew it was a matter of time before things started to click. I wasn’t worried. It was a matter of getting experience. I tried not to let it get to me.”

A .240 hitter with 18 home runs through his first three professional seasons, Mesoraco took his game to another level in 2010 — actually, through three levels. He batted a combined .302 with 26 homers, 75 RBIs and a .377 on-base percentage at Class A Lynchburg, Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Louisville.

Defensively, Mesoraco caught 41 percent of runners attempting to steal, an improvement from 30 percent in 2009 and just 17 percent in ’08. There is still improvement to be made behind the plate as he also had 13 passed balls.

Mesoraco earned an invitation to the Arizona Fall League, usually a proving ground for elite prospects who can smell the big leagues.

“He had an outstanding year. He had success at every level,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “You could see it at Spring Training that he had turned a corner and became the prospect we thought he’d be when he was drafted. We’ll see where he stands at Spring Training next year. There’s not much more we could have asked of him.”

The Reds have an interesting situation developing at the catcher position. Obviously, Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez were very good at that spot in 2010, and I expect both of those guys to be around next year. Mesoraco should start the season at AAA Louisville, but what if he’s ready sooner rather than later? What if the Reds feel that he’s ready mid-way through 2011? Further, what if 2010 first-rounder Yasmani Grandal, also a catcher, is as good as advertised?

Wow, that’s a logjam, and it provides the Reds some flexibility. Yet another reason to be excited about the future of this club.

For the record, there can be no question that Mesoraco’s breakthrough season was a direct result of joining us on the Redleg Nation Radio podcast before the season. It’s just a fact.

17 thoughts on “On Devin Mesoraco

  1. I’m not opposed to giving him a chance to win a roster spot out of ST. Of course that means you would have to let Ramon walk and if Devin isn’t ready, you’re short-handed behind the plate. But I think Hanigan can handle full time duties for a little while until we can get ML ready help for him.

  2. Of course the safe play (and what they will and probably should do) is the re-sign Ramon to one year and start Devin in AAA. Most likely there will be an opportunity for him to at least get a cup of coffee in the bigs.

  3. @RiverCity Redleg:

    If he’s not ready on opening day, it wouldn’t be worth starting his service clock early. If he tears up AAA and can’t be kept in the minors, wait until after you estimate the Super 2 cut-off will be and bring him up then. You probably won’t sacrifice too much in terms of on-field results compared to the amount of money you’ll save, plus you’ll delay his free agency by a year (or a half year, for all intents and purposes).

  4. I’ve heard both Walt and Rick Sweet say that he’s not quite ready yet. Between that and the service clock, it makes sense to not rush the kid. As meh as I am about Ramon, we need him. The more you play Hanigan, the returns would diminish. That said, Hanigan should be playing more than Hernandez.
    All Hernandez has to be is average next year and we’ll easily be able to unload him when Meso is ready.

  5. More to the point, breaking into the bigs w/ Hanigan would be an ideal situation. Hanigan could play as much or as little as necessary and he strikes me as just the kind of guy who would be a good mentor.

  6. I don’t understand why everyone is so sure this kid is the real deal. He had a great season, true, but does that erase how poor he was in his first 3 professional seasons? Or the fact that he got worse at the plate with each level he climbed? Or what about the THIRTEEN errors he made from the CATCHER position last year (which is unheard of)? To me, those who are suggesting he will be ready next year are way off. I’m not saying that this kid can’t be great, but I am saying that he is being crowned a top prospect a little too early. People tend to give first-round picks the benefit of the doubt. We see one great season and immediately it’s “there’s all that potential!” Had he been a 20th round pick, he’d have been cut a year ago.

    Like I said, I’m not saying he can’t be great, but I think his development has a ways to go and I’m not positive he’s what we think he is. Therefore, if he had value in a trade for someone like Greinke (Royals need a C prospect), I say you trade him. We still have the duo of Hernandez/Hanigan for next year, and Grandal should be ready in 2011. Even if he isn’t Hanigan can take over the main duties until he is.

  7. I have never seen this kid play, nor do I have any stats at hand. But having 1 good season at the plate without really any experience at Triple A does not make a prospect ready. Especially for catchers. The scariest thing I have read about this guy came from a poster in reply to Sheldon’s article. This guy apparently sees all the games from the Arizona Fall League. And he commented that the opposing team stole “only” 2 bases on Messeroco the day before.

  8. @DZak1904: I find it a bit odd that you caution everyone from declaring Devin “ready” just b/c he had one good year and was a 1st round pick and in the same breath exclaim that “Grandal should be ready in 2011”. Physician heal thyself.

  9. I’d definitely jump on the “wait and see” bandwagon, especially with a catcher. There’s just a whole lot more to being an effective ML catcher than just skills. Hanigan does seem like he’d be a good mentor, but I’d keep the platoon going at least for the first half of the season ’til we see where Mesoraco – and the Reds – stand at that point.

  10. Aw, man, but what about Corky? Out of all the guys on the Reds, my wife loves Corky most. She has taken to calling him “Mario”.

    Don’t lose sight of the importance of calling a good game behind the plate and handling pitchers. The Reds need catchers who are excellent managers (like Hanigan) and I’m not sure I’d fully trust a Mesoraco-Chapman battery, despite their potential, for a little while yet. Some “seasoning” together in AAA next year would go a long way for both of them, I think.

  11. @RiverCity Redleg: I meant to say 2012, and the difference between Grandal and Mesoraco is that Grandal hasn’t failed at the minor league level at such a ridiculous rate and is a much better catcher than Mesoraco, hence all the errors.

  12. I like the idea from above of Mesoraco as trade bait; but they might have to let things play out until the deadline or even after nexy season. Why?

    Grandal was a dominant player offensively and defensively at the highest level of NCAA competition. Unless the scouts blew it completely on him (and that is also less likely because of seeing him versus top college level competition), the only question should be his transition to wood bats. If he handles that it should just be a matter of getting him the reps at progressive levels of competition.

    On the other hand, how do they know that the Mesoraco of 2010 is the real deal and not the one who struggled so much previously.

    I say sign Hernandez or a suitable similar guy to back up Hanigan for 2011 and take it from there with the supposition that Grandal is the catcher of the future unless events establish otherwise.

  13. Considering how the pitchers have done when he caught, I think Corky Miller would be fine as the backup catcher getting a start or two a week with the brunt of the playing time going to Ryan Hanigan. People have said many times on this board how much better both of these guys handle the pitchers, let’s see what they can do if they are the main catchers. Hanigan will be starting his 3rd full year, I don’t think they need the vet caddy anymore and either way they have it with a lesser bat with the Corkster, who is a fine defensive backstop. I think it would be safe to go this way, as the Reds have two catchers that might be on the way by the end of 2010, depending on how Grandal does in his first assignment.

    Unless he just flat out kills it at a crazy level during spring training, I would think that the Reds would want Devin Mesoraco to get another half season at AAA before moving up anyway. His bat might be closer than his game, so I would think they might want him to spend some time with a former catcher/manager at Louisville to pick up some more stuff.

    I would not doubt that Ramon Hernandez goes to NY or Boston or maybe the White Sox to pair up with another veteran catcher. It seems like something they might do.

  14. I agree with the consensus that Mesoraco needs to be at AAA for at least the first half of 2011. Hernandez played better than I expected in 2010, including at throwing out would-be base stealers, but maybe it’s time to end his tenure with the Reds.

    Hanigan does tire when he plays almost every day, but I wouldn’t pay much for Ramon because I too like the Corkster as a backup.

  15. I watched him in the Arizona Fall League last week. I think he needs to work on his receiving skills. He has a cannon arm and has a decent CS%, and he seems to have a clue at the plate–both last season and in the AFL, so he can play. But until he does a better job blocking balls in the dirt and stopping balls that shouldn’t get by him, he’s not going to be on the Reds, no matter how much better he hits than before. I don’t think the Reds are going to be able to count on him for 2011 based on what I saw.

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