Cincinnati Reds in Review: C/1B Brayan Pena


It was a signing that came without much pomp or circumstance, but when the Cincinnati Reds inked Brayan Pena to a two-year deal on November 12, 2013, little did they know they were providing themselves with a player who would fill so many roles.

Brayan Pena – Catcher/First Baseman


The starting catcher position was finally Devin Mesoraco’s. In an off-season deal, the team sent former stalwart Ryan Hanigan to the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade, freeing up room for Mesoraco to take over everyday duties behind the plate.

While the minor league system is flush with talent, the club needed a veteran presence that could also fill the role of being an occasional player and voice to the younger players in the locker room. That’s where Brayan Pena steps in.

Having bounced around in his career with the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers prior to 2014, Pena was the consummate backup catcher. Never in a season did he have more than 243 plate appearances, or more than 68 hits (both of which he accomplished in 2013 with Detroit).

It would be a sign of things to come when Devin Mesoraco began the season on the disabled list due to a muscular injury, leaving Pena as the starting battery mate for many in the rotation. It’s here we believe the Pena/Johnny Cueto relationship was established; he would go on to catch 25 of Cueto’s 34 starts.

Up until 2012 with the Royals, Pena had never wondered over to that mythical land known as first base. He had in fact played third base for the Braves back in 2006, but beyond that, he was constricted to behind the dish. Despite popular opinion, playing first base is not the easiest of jobs. In fact, Ron Washington’s character in the movie Moneyball sums it up quite well when prompted to tell Scott Hatteberg’s character how easy it is to play first base, “it’s incredibly hard.”

Here we sit after 2014, where Pena played in 115 games—smashing his previous high of 72—and can unequivocally say that if it were not for his contributions, the Reds may have even been worse off. (If that indeed is possible.)

Pena’s Stat Line:


.253/.291/.353, 348 AB’s, 88 H, 18 2B’s, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 20 BB-42 K

Top Brayan Pena Moment:


In just a week’s span, Pena produced two of his better days all season.

The first came on July 11 at home, when the Reds were locked up with the Pittsburgh Pirates in a tightly contested series. Pirates’ reliever Tony Watson was on his way to the All-Star Game in under a week and had yet to lose a game in the first half. That all changed with Brayan Pena came off the bench to pinch-hit and laced the go-ahead single into centerfield that capped off a five-run rally over the seventh and eighth innings that gave the Reds a magnificent comeback.

After the conclusion of that game, despite the overwhelming number of injuries and improbable odds that glared the Reds in the face, it would appear as if they’d survive. Just a week later, the team was already floating towards the bottom of a never-ending abyss.

Pena’s other night he may most remember is July 18 at Yankee Stadium. Getting the start at first base, Pena took full advantage of the short porch in right field, clubbing two home runs down the line in what would ultimately be a losing effort. It would be Pena’s only multi-home run game all season long.

Low-Point of the Season for Brayan Pena:


For a player as exuberant as Pena, it’s highly unlikely he had a bad moment at any point during the season. Don’t confuse Pena’s relaxed attitude to a lack of care, but rather an attribute to the person he is both on and off the field.

The old axiom, “you wouldn’t know if he went 0-for-4, or 4-for-4,” certainly applies to Pena.

Final Grade: B-


Pena was not only a solid contributor in his time on the field, but with his exuberant personality and loving spirit, it would be nearly impossible to find anyone within the organization that has a bad word to say about him.