Cincinnati Reds in Review: C Devin Mesoraco

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One of the few Cincinnati Reds to contribute offensively throughout the season, Devin Mesoraco exploded onto the scene in 2014 to the tune of a near Silver Slugger worthy season.

Devin Mesoraco – Catcher

 

There was a period in time when general manager Walt Jocketty had to make a choice; was it going to be Devin Mesoraco, or Yasmani Grandal? Both came with extremely high regard while down in the Reds minor league system, but when the opportunity arose to acquire former San Diego Padres ace Mat Latos, the team decided it was Mesoraco who would be here for the long haul and Grandal who would be exploring the West Coast.

With Grandal having already been suspended 50 games for PED use and struggling to keep his average above the Mendoza line, Mesoraco has developed into one of the most complete catchers in all of baseball.

In his first year in which he was handed the reins of an entire pitching staff, Mesoraco admittedly had trouble staying healthy. Of the team’s first 39 games, he played in only 13 due to strains and pulls that slowed his voraciously hot start. On May 18, Mesoraco was still batting .500 with an insanely high .542 on-base percentage. It seemed he would never cool down.

By the end of June, his average had crated “all the way down” to .310. His first half was still impressive enough to earn himself a place on the National League All-Star roster. (He made it over Buster Posey—the eventual Silver Slugger winner and 2014 World Series Champion)

Not as if Mesoraco’s April numbers were sustainable, but due to the fact that he batted only .237 in the second half, Mesoraco would finish with his average at a respectable .273. He would also check in with 25 home runs, 25 doubles and 80 RBI. It hasn’t been since a certain number five was camped behind the plate that a Redleg has clubbed the ball this well from the catcher position.

Mesoraco’s Stat Line:

 

.273/.359/.534, 384 AB’s, 25 2B’s, 25 HR, 80 RBI, OPS+ 149, 41 BB-103 K

Top Devin Mesoraco Moment:

 

On one of the rare occasions Mesoraco was behind the plate for Johnny Cueto on August 10, he demolished the baseball.

He got going early in the first inning with a two-run blast, before following it up with a Grand Slam in the fifth inning that provided Cueto with more than enough run support.

His six RBI in that game would be his season-high, but he would drive in at least four runs on five separate occasions, as well as at least three runs in 10 different games.

Low-Point of the Season for Devin Mesoraco:

 

There would be two separate occasions when Mesoraco would produce 0-fer’s while catching more than his standard nine innings behind the dish.

The first was on May 19 in Washington; when both clubs would play into the wee hours of the capital morning, before the club would escape with a 4-3 win. But for Mesoraco, his 0-for-6 night with just a walk to show for it, was nearly as taxing as the 15 innings he spent behind the plate.

Also on August 22 against the Atlanta Braves, Mesoraco would crouch down and be the catcher for 12 innings while he racked up a 0-for-5 night with the bat. This time around, he wouldn’t even have a win to rest his laurels on, as the Redlegs fell 3-1.

There would be two other games in which Mesoraco caught 12 innings, but he would homer in both of them, meaning that they really weren’t low-points at all.

Final Grade: A

 

Penciled into the seventh spot in the lineup at season’s inception, Mesoraco turned himself into the club’s cleanup hitter faster than anyone could have predicted. Obliterating any fastball even remotely on the inner third, the former first-round pick from snowy and dreary Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, has become a legitimate force in the Cincinnati lineup.

The comparisons to Johnny Bench are inevitable, but the sooner it’s realized that Bench was a once-in-a-lifetime type player, the sooner fans can begin to appreciate Mesoraco for what he is: the future face of the new age Big Red Machine.