2017 Reds

Devin the Destroyer of Worlds and Labra is Back!

The Reds have made the much anticipated official announcement that Devin Mesoraco has been activated from the 10-day disabled list. He’ll be on the Reds roster for tomorrow night’s game in St. Louis.

In case you’ve forgotten your Mesoraco history, here’s a brief timeline:

  • 1988 Devin was born (he’s 28 now)
  • 2007 Reds selected Devin in 1st round of draft (15th pick overall) out of Punxsutawney high school. He turns down a scholarship to the University of Virginia (with Chad’s blessing) to play for the Reds.
  • 2010 Devin finally makes it to the big time, granted an interview with Redleg Nation Radio and Bill Lack.
  • Sept. 2011 Devin debuts for the Reds at age 21, doubles vs. Cardinals in his first at bat. He starts his first game for the Reds on Sept. 5.
  • 2014 Takes over as Reds starting catcher, plays 114 games, hits 25 homers and bats .273/.359/.534. That’s a walk rate of 9.3% and isolated power of .260. Much potential shown. Only 19 major league players hit more than 25 homers in 2014. Devin’s wRC+ was 147.
  • Jan. 2015 Signs a 4-year contract for $28 million through 2018, covering his three arbitration years and his first free agency year. At the time, it looked like a crazy good deal for the Reds. Debate: Should Devin play 9 out of 10 games or just 8 out of 10?
  • 2015 Plays in 23 games, 51 plate appearances
  • May 2015 Placed on DL for left hip impingement, after Reds devise a short-term plan to use Mesoraco selectively as a pinch hitter and designated hitter, the catcher has corrective surgery in New York at end of June
  • 2016 Reports to spring training healthy, plays in 13 games, 55 plate appearances
  • May 2016 Placed on DL for torn labrum, left shoulder. Had corrective surgery.
  • July 2016 Has preventive surgery on right hip impingement
  • 2017 Devin misses Opening Day, activated by Reds on April 27

The Reds have been conservative in Mesoraco’s latest rehab and recovery. They slow-played him through spring training, despite Devin never reporting a setback. His progress in the minor leagues since the start of the season has been regulated but steadily forward. After speculation the Reds might try to find playing time for Mesoraco in the outfield, that experiment seems to be on hold for now.

The second hip surgery was a smart precaution to take while Mesoraco was already on the DL. By all accounts, Mesoraco is now healthy and should have the stamina to play a lot. Although, expect the Reds to continue their cautious approach.

But shoulder surgeries like Mesoraco’s can mess up a hitter’s timing for a good while. Hitting is the recovery marker, not the health of his hips, that most bears watching. Reds fans have seen with Scott Rolen and Ryan Ludwick the effect shoulder surgery can have on power. Research on the long-term effect of lead shoulder injuries shows a wide range of outcomes.

Whenever shoulder injury/surgery comes up, I think of this quote from one of the leading specialists on the topic of shoulder repair:

“Trying to re-establish ones mechanics after surgery is a complex process,” says Dr. ElAttrache, speaking generally. “It’s extremely delicate. It involves rebuilding strength, and all that goes into the swing from the front shoulder. It takes perfect mechanics to regain bat speed and the swing path. Sometimes it takes a year, sometimes more.”

If spring training was any indication, expect plenty of bad swings from Mesoraco. He’ll run into a pitch now and again. It’s hard to grasp this, but after the All Star break is the right timeframe to start to evaluate Devin Mesoraco’s hitting. In that respect, he fits right in with much of the rest of the roster.

As for the Reds roster, the club plans to hold on to Stuart Turner, for a while at least. Carrying three catchers doesn’t sound like something Bryan Price would want to do for long. But Turner being available does allow Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart to pinch hit. Turner won’t see much playing time, so his defensive attributes and offensive liabilities hardly matter. While Turner would add organizational depth at catcher, it’s not like finding a back up catcher is that difficult. It’s hard to imagine the Reds sacrificing much to keep Turner on the major league roster this year. He’ll be around until the Reds are satisfied that Mesoraco is ready to go.

32 thoughts on “Devin the Destroyer of Worlds and Labra is Back!

  1. On an aside: I hope Barrett Astin has a Capital One card in his wallet to take advantage of all those rewards that come with frequent flying.

        • Crew Member- Mr. Astin you have been bumped due to a staff member needing a seat and our inept over booking
          Astin- But I am due in Cincinnati for an important game, Rookie Davis only pitched 1 and 1/3 inning last night and the bullpen is taxed
          Crew Member- Officer!

    • So when is Astin getting called back up?, for sure thought Rookie Davis would get sent down,… so is the plan to start Davis, Reed, or someone else Tuesday?

  2. I know we shouldn’t expect the 2014 Devon to show up in STL. However, as the weeks pass and the temps rise, I hope Devon’s play heats up too.
    Turner, while not in an enviable position, does get ML pay and time accrued for as long as this lasts. It’s a very convoluted method if they want to keep Turner and have the flexibility to send him to AAA later if they wanted. First, I think he has to be exposed to waivers and all the 28 teams not CIN or MIN get a shot to claim him. If he passes through waivers, he then is offered back to MIN. Then MIN can choose to keep him or trade him. Then CIN would have to work out the details of a trade. Once a trade is made he could then be assigned to AAA. That seems like a lot of trouble to go through. But, the Reds do seem to have a need for an insurance policy at C at AAA in case Mesoraco has a re-occurrence of injury, or worse if Barnhart gets injured.

    • I thought Brantly was not that far behind in ST & what about Chad Wallach? Impression I got Turner has not been too impressive block pitches and throwing out base runners but had not seen any games.

      • Turner isn’t throwing out runners but it isn’t because of the arm. He has a good one. He has given up 4 WP on his watch so far and I’ve only seen one of them. On that one, he didn’t really have a chance.

        • I recall a few people saying that Joe Hudson, already a Reds farmhand, was pretty good defensively. Is he that far behind Turner that it’s worth the efforts to keep Turner?

          • If the Reds are not able to retain Turner, Hudson remains a possibility. The Reds opted to not protect Hudson during the rule 5 draft this season. How much the Reds value Turner as an asset remains to be seen. They may simply be looking at Turner as short-term insurance rather than a long-term asset. Personally, I like having Hudson and Turner as options in the Reds farm system, especially as possible platoon partners for Barnhart in the future. I don’t see any other viable catching options in the farm system until Stephenson (A ball) or Okey (A+ ball) emerge as major league ready prospects. They are both at least 2 seasons away and Mesoraco will be gone after the 2018 season.

          • I think Tom was speaking about Hudson when this first came up. If that’s who Tom was talking about, I’d say he isn’t far behind Turner and I trust Tom and Doug for most things involving prospect evaluation.

  3. So, I wrote this for Redleg Nation over a year ago, and since Devin’s 2016 was a wash, I think the analysis is still somewhat timely.

    If you missed it then, please check it out if you want to know exactly how good his 2014 was in historical context, and if we think he could still hit for that type of power.

    https://redlegnation.com/2016/04/01/finding-mesoracos-power/

  4. I think it will be very interesting to see what Mesoraco’s playing time looks like. I’m really thinking Price won’t start him back-to-back games for quite awhile.

    • so does he start Friday? and the more important question who bats 8th or do you dare move billy or peraza down to 9th

      • This is a great question.

        Mesoraco probably isn’t going to be great offensively from the start, so maybe Price keeps him at #8?

        This seems like a Price move because he still thinks a guy gets “rattled” if he shows up to the park and sees he’s hitting 5th instead of 6th…

        If one of Hamilton or Peraza has to bat leadoff, I’d go…

        Peraza-Votto-Suarez-Duvall-Schebler-Cozart-Mesoraco-Pitcher-Hamilton. (Against RHP)

        Price has done Billy 9th and Joey 2nd before… maybe he can do it again!

        • To have Mozart, Votto and Suarez at the top of our lineup would be cub esq

          3 grinders to wear down the opposing pitchers so that they can rest during those 3 pitch at bats of Pedraza and Billy.

          Devin will not have any injury issues. He swings too hard and breaks baseballs

          now the eyesight for what a strike zone looks like might be a different matter

        • As a player, I’d tell the manager I didn’t care where I hit in the order. In reality however, I did care. I liked hitting in front of a better hitter than me and behind someone with good speed. That way I got more fastballs and fewer off-speed pitches, especially if the pitcher was behind in the count. The slot number didn’t matter as much.

  5. To be optimistic, Sean Casey had shoulder surgery and went on to have his best power year. Welcome Back Devon.

  6. I am hoping he comes back strong and stays healthy. We Reds fans can use some good news.

  7. I hope he has the same impact Schwarber had on his return to the Cubs last fall.

  8. Good recap of where Mez has been, Steve. One very minor correction to your timeline above: Devin made his MLB debut at age 23, not 21. But it would have been nice for him and the Reds if he were a couple of years younger and looking ahead at his prime years now. Oh well. Best of luck to Devin.

  9. Went to the Dayton Dragons game tonight. Family night, not scouting. But I was impressed with Tyler Stephenson. I stayed through his first three AB and he hit the ball squarely each time – the first two AB against a tough starter from the Dodgers organization. Stephenson runs really well for a catcher, a big catcher.

    • Doug Gray also has a great write up on the real deal Tyler Stephenson. He fell off of the radar last year but if he keeps playing like his April he’ll be a top 5 Reds prospect.

  10. So did his DL clock run out, or was it his .188/.232/.297 at AA that got him back up with the team. Maybe it was his pre-injury stats from last year .140/.218/.160?

    So if he had to prove that he could catch back to back games in the minors, why wouldn’t he be able to do it in the majors? Do you have to squat a different way in the majors? Perhaps you have to swing harder.

    • Haha. Those stats are with metal bats too. Gonna be even worse swinging the lumber.

      On a more positive note he’s carrying an OBP that qualifies him for leading off or batting second for the ole Redlegs – which is nice!

      • And Mesoraco was hitting exclusively in the #2 hole during his rehab assignment. I’m not sure how Kelly justified hitting a base-clogger in the #2 hole, even during a rehab assignment. The situation I really found odd was Mesoraco’s lack of use as a DH when he wasn’t catching. I know he did DH during one of his final games duriong the rehab, but I would have thought the Reds would have wanted Mesoraco getting as many PA as possible (ergo hitting in the #2 hole) during his rehab assignment and utlized him as the DH whenever he wasn’t catching.

  11. I think “Destroyer of Labra” needs to be cited every time Devin Mesoraco’s name is mentioned from here to eternity.

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