Cincinnati Reds have a wide open race for time behind the plate in 2017

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

With the unsure status of Devin Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart unable to hold up for an entire season, the Cincinnati Reds are looking at all of their catchers this spring.

The Cincinnati Reds have collected an assortment of catchers that all appear capable of adding something positive at the major league level.  Devin Mesoraco comes in as the prohibitive favorite to win the starting position, but he needs to prove that he is healthy.  The rest of the cast has to overtake Tucker Barnhart before taking the starting reins.

Mesoraco has come into each of the past four seasons as the Reds’ starting catcher.  Unfortunately, he has only played more than 25 games in two of those four seasons.  If he is healthy and anywhere close to his 2014 production, he will be the starter all season long for the Reds.

If not, Barnhart will get the next chance at being the starting catcher, a role that he has been forced into each of the past two seasons.  He has gotten better each year that he has been in the Reds’ organization.  However, he has also slowed down in the second half the past two years.  He needs to overcome his endurance issues.  Barnhart also needs to lower his CERA in order to keep his spot on the team.

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Beyond the top two catchers on the Cincinnati Reds’ organizational depth chart, there are four other catchers trying to make the team.

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Stephen Turner was taken in the second round of the Rule 5 Draft and is a defensive specialist.  He is already on the roster, so he has an advantage in being a back-up.  As someone with a reputation for a light bat, he may have trouble being more than that this year.

The non-roster invitee most likely to be the opening day starter is Rob Brantly, formerly of the Miami Marlins.  He’s a left-handed batting defensive catcher that played in the Seattle Mariners’ farm system last year.  He was the starting catcher in Miami for half of 2013. That makes him the most likely to step in, if Barnhart and Mesoraco are both unable to go.

The last two are Chad Wallach and Shawn Zarraga.  They both need to show huge offensive improvement in order to make the team.  Wallach’s advantage is that he can also play the corner infield positions.

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The Reds have six catchers going to Arizona and likely will bring back three to Cincinnati.  The most likely outcome is that the catcher with the best offensive spring will come back with Mesoraco and Barnhart.  Hopefully, Mesoraco is healthy and this is just an analysis of the bench.