If you want my opinion (and if you don’t, why are you here?) No one on the roster is harder to project than Devin Mesoraco. Hamilton has less ML playing time, but we know more about his potential and abilities. Mesoraco, on the other hand, is an enigma. He’s hit not very well in two season of not playing very much. Everyone in the world thinks he’ll improve with more playing time, but how much? Who knows. And what if he doesn’t improve? That’s possible, too.

Devin Mesoraco
2013 Slash Line: .238/.287/.362
2014 Projection: .245/.310/.420

2013 WAR: 0.2 (BBRef & FanGraphs average)
2014 Best Guess WAR: 2.5
Projected Difference: +2.3 WAR
2014 Floor: 0.0 WAR
2014 Ceiling: 5.0 WAR

Let me start by saying that I have basically zero confidence in this projection. Based on the information out there, here is what I think:

1. He will take walks.
2. The projection systems are, generally speaking, underselling his power.

In the minors, Mesoraco hit for a lot of power. That’s easy to forget, but an ISO around .200 was not uncommon and at times, he pushed well beyond that. He also typically had a walk rate over 8 percent. If he can approach those marks as a full time player, he will surpass my projection.

But there is at least some possibility that Mesoraco is a Four-A player. I don’t think he is, but I have to acknowledge the possibility.

Mesoraco could be one of the big factors in how well 2014 goes for the Reds. It’s possible to imagine him washing out and it’s possible to imagine him in the all-star game.

I have no idea. What do you think?

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 23 Comments

  1. Mesoraco could be the right handed power hitter the Reds have lacked. He could also be a flop. I have no idea what he is. I’m really not sure that the Reds are very sure. They haven’t really had a great plan (if you want to call it that) for him at all.

  2. I believe probably the biggest question mark on this team. I don’t think he will be a flop. I do think he will be at least serviceable. No one can really tell how he will do because he hasn’t had the time nor opportunity to be able to get into a routine, to get use to major league pitching, the major league game, etc. (sorry, but playing 1-2 games then sitting doesn’t constitute getting an opportunity for many players; as I stated, for many players at this level, being able to get into a routine is important for them; it’s like exactly like riding a bike, once you do it, you never forget). The best comparison we can probably look at as far as being a regular rull-time catcher against a known commodity is this:

    Buster Posey’s last full-time minor league season: 325/416/531
    Devin’s last full-time minor league season: 289/371/484

    Can Devin pick up the game and excel at this level? I am confident he can. But, will he? If he excels, he is the right handed hitter the Reds have been looking for. If not, like I stated, I believe he is at least serviceable as a regular catcher.

    The thing I wonder about is how many pitches is he going to get. I’m not sure where Price will end up putting him. If Price puts him 8th, then while Devin may be able to take the walks, he isn’t going to get much opportunity to swing the bat, since teams will just pitch around him to get to the pitcher.

    • @steveschoen: Agree with you, Steve. There’s no way of knowing his floor or ceiling, but a decent defensive catcher with some power will always have a job. He is that, at least, and perhaps more.

  3. We also do not know what the effect of a new batting coach and a new manager will be. He has been left to wither on the vine, so to speak. The Reds think this is his time and if it isn’t then I hope Barnhart has a good season in AAA. It is far too soon to judge one way or another on Devin.

  4. Just read your overview Jason. I think it’s pretty simple do you think Mesoraco in one year can produce this year better than Hanigan/Meso platoon? Personally I think War is a bunch of hooey I look at this year compared to last and ask are we in better shape and I think YES! Low end with Devin is grater than anything we had with Hanigan I think Arroyo over blew the importance of the receiver if you have the stuff you could throw to either you or I there going to throw what they want anyway

  5. I have no idea either, but my feeling is that his offensive numbers improve quite a bit this year. His offensive and defensive numbers will allow the Reds to receive better total performance from the catcher position than they did last year.

    It took him a couple of years in the minors to get going, and I think the full playing time this year will help. Plus, Marty labelled a bust and a waste of a first round draft pick a few years ago when he had seemingly stalled out in the minors. Marty’s made similar proclamations with regard to Cueto and Bailey in the past, and they seem to have benefited greatly from it!


    • @Greg Dafler: Marty is old enough to be a sly old fox. He is successfully (we hope) employing a powerful reverse jinx. Could we get him to use it on a few other players? Or does he have to ration it for some frightening reason?

  6. Outside of BHam, Meso’s production is the key to the 2014 success of the offense this year, IMO. We need some improvement at a couple of positions to be successful, and catcher is key. I think we will be better off here with Meso and a sprinkling of Pena. We cant forget about him either. He will play enough to have an impact. Any thoughts on how he will perform? I’m unfamiliar with him.

  7. Mesoraco could find himself batting anywhere from 4th to 8th. That’s the enigma wrapped up in a puzzle when it comes to him. A 25 HR 80 RBI season from Meso and Frazier would go a long way to curing what ails the Reds offensive production.
    As for Pena, I misread the tea leaves when the Reds signed him. I thought it was indicative of Chapman moving into the rotation. Way wrong there. But it is possible that Pena still does catch alot of Chapman if they bring Pena in to a game in the late innings to catch Chapman then. Pena swings a decent stick. The C position should be in good hands all season.

  8. Meso was struggling in the lower minors to the point there were starting to be insider whispers he was a bust. Then in 2010 he seemed to “find something” and made a meteoric rise from “high A” all the way to AAA in a single season. He continued in 2011 by putting together what has been called his break out season at AAA.

    So in some ways he is right back where he was at the start of the 2010 season. Hopefully the results will be the same. However I think caution is advised and merited largely because Meso was in essentially a rocking chair position in 2011 when you look down the quality and depth of the lineup Louisville fielded that season. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Reds have that kind of offensive MLB level depth on offense this year to help ease the load on Meso. We shall see what we shall see over the next several months.

  9. Spending two years on the bench and as a part timer in the shadow of Hanigan I believe hurt Meso in a way that doesn’t get mentioned a lot.
    I think he became so focused on becoming the defensive equal of Hanigan that he lost sight of who he was and the special offensive tools he brought to the table that could offset or more any defensive deficiencies he brought to the table visa via Hanigan.

    And I’m not sure he served well by the organization in this regard either. If his defense was reall all that poor, they should have anted up a couple of million for a journeyman MLB backup and sent Meso back to AAA to work with the master, Corky, on his defense.

  10. Perhaps this is a little afield, but am I the only one that this daily losing is starting to grate on?

    It is not really early (in ST) any longer; and while I know there is still work to be done and bodies to be saved for the real wars, it would be comforting to see a day of two out of every 4 or 5 spent making a best effort to win. Habits can start from anywhere; and, playing just poor enough to lose is a terrible habit to fall into and not always that easy to shake.

  11. Devin is an enigma.

    Drafted in 2007 (1st round). In hindsight he was a great reach for the reds. Here is why they reached so far>> “Mesoraco attended Punxsutawney Area High School in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he was a catcher for the Chucks baseball team. He set school records in walks, runs, hits, doubles, home runs and stolen bases.”

    Yes he set records>> stolen bases?? Does any of this translate to the big time??

    Devin is still fairly young (DOB 6/19/88). His best days are ahead, but how good will those days be?? Nobody really knows.

    He, Cozart and Frazier are the keys to this teams success. Even more than Hamilton. If the Red’s hit on two of these three they will be in the playoffs and go a long way.

    His progression (offensively) is the biggest ? on this team. It will be fun to see it unfold..

  12. I really think that his offense will improve a lot this year. I watched him a lot in Louisville and he has a lot of raw power when he gets a hold of it. Really, as an offensive player I liken him to Frazier. Good raw power, big swing with some holes, bad pitch recognition at times, and streaky. I think if he bats 8th, he will have a high walk rate because teams will pitch around him a lot because he can be quite dangerous. If he bats 6th or 7th, I think he sees a lot of breaking pitches with pitchers trying to get him to overextend himself. I think a .255/.320/.430 line is quite possible with good defense meaning he will bring more value to the position than the Reds have had in a while.

  13. you are good OhioJim, you are good:

    “I think he became so focused on becoming the defensive equal of Hanigan that he lost sight of who he was and the special offensive tools he brought to the table that could offset or more any defensive deficiencies he brought to the table visa via Hanigan.”

    I so agree with this. Dusty did not play Meso because of his defense. He was so focused on that as Jim points out that we could see a nice break out offensively this year because it is his job.

    Catching is a big deal. The drop by Pena today led to the 3 run bomb and changed the game. I like that Price is playing everyone now and a few losses this early really means nothing. It means a bunch to those kids getting the abs, we need them to develop.

    Dusty would not be as interested in said development

    • @reaganspad: good points, with Meso not having to be so anxious now, I am looking for Meso to provide best offense from Reds catching spot since Eddie Taubensee. I see Frazier and Meso eventually owning the 5 and 6 spots in the lineup, followed by Luddy if he can reach his career avg over 100-120 games.

  14. I love that he interviewed with Redleg Nation. He is one of the players I’m most excited to watch. Imagine Devin and BH both walk at 8-10%.

  15. John Fay via twitter…

    Henry Rodriguez was released.


    Optioned to Louisville Carlos Contreras, Daniel Corcino, David Holmberg, Ryan LaMarre, Donald Lutz, Chad Rogers.

    Optioned to Pensacola Duran, Guillon, YRodriguez; reassigned to minors: Crabbe, Lorenzen, RNavarro, Rossmel Perez,MRamirez, Stephenson.

    No big surprises in the early roster cuts, except the outright release of HenRod. Navarro goes to AA rather than AAA. Stephenson & Lorenzen start the year in AA. The Big Lutz moves up to AAA.

    • @Shchi Cossack: Lutz occupying a AAA spot has to make Bernidina feel a little better.

      As for Mes. He is one of the few on the team who historically loves some left-handed pitching. Pena mashed righties last year and generally hits better from the left side. Mes will get the lion’s share of the playing time but Pena as switch hitter who performs well against righties gives the Reds complete offensive flexibility.

      I think Devin ‘breaks out’ this year to the tune of 3+ WAR.

  16. I agree that he’s almost impossible to project. I think he’s going to fall in line pretty near where you have him. That said, he could do significantly better or worse. I don’t see him as a guy who’s going to hit .280 or higher. I just don’t see it. I do see him as a guy who has some pop and I think getting the majority of the playing time, he’s going to run into one every now and then. I also think he could maintain a league average BB-rate of around 8%, maybe a bit higher out of the 8-hole if he hits there. I don’t see Mesoraco as being an all-star kind of player but I do see him as having a ceiling of above-average. His floor? I don’t think he’s a washout. At minimum, I think his floor is that of a serviceable MLB catcher.

  17. […] Votto Brandon Phillips Zack Cozart Ryan Ludwick Billy Hamilton Jay Bruce Todd Frazier Devin Mesoraco The Bench Top of the […]

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.


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