Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Devin Mesoraco has uphill battle to regain starting position

Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Reds have loaded the catching position with a multitude of catching styles.

The Cincinnati Reds want Devin Mesoraco to be their everyday catcher.  That would mean that he is healthy enough to catch everyday.  Based on the last two seasons that is not likely a scenario this season.  He won’t be ready for the start of the season, meaning that the Reds are short one middle of the line-up hitter.

The Reds viewed the catching situation as an open competition with some playing time set aside for Mersoraco.  He will be given a chance to start twice a week no matter how bad his spring is, once his body can take it.  That will likely be the determining factor in Mesoraco’s season.

In 2014, Mesoraco’s only season as the starting catcher, he had his only offensive strong season in his MLB career.  He batted .273 with 25 home runs.  In the other 214 games of his career his has a total of 16 home runs.

There are unbridled expectations for Mesoraco this season with little history to back it up.  Mesoraco will likely be a plus offensive catcher when he is healthy enough to play, but there is no reason to expect him to be an All-Star again.  That’s why the Reds brought in so many different styles for a tryout this spring.

Given the Cincinnati Reds’ focus on rebuilding the pitching staff, Rule 5 draftee Stephen Turner may be Mesoraco’s biggest competition.

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With Tucker Barnhart behind the plate last year the Reds’ pitchers saw their ERA go up more than with any other catcher.  That means that the front office wanted to find a game caller and a pitch framer.  That led them to the defensive specialist in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system.

The Reds believe that Rule 5 draftee Stuart Turner is the best defensive catcher in camp for them.  The question is whether he can continue to hit the way he has this spring.  That’s why they have brought in another defensive option.

Rob Brantly may end up the starter for the Reds behind the plate and could be a substantial improvement over Barnhart, even after Barnhart’s career season in 2016.  He spent the 2017 season in the Seattle Mariners’ farm system after experience as the starter for the Miami Marlins.  He is a left-handed hitter, but much like Turner doesn’t appear to have much of an offensive upside.

Of course the Reds also had a duo of offensive minded non-roster invitees in Shawn Zarraga and Chad Wallach in camp.  Wallach will someday reprise the role of Javier Valentin from a few years ago.  He would be the third string catcher, the top pinch-hitter and an emergency corner infielder.

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The Reds don’t need Mesoraco to reclaim his starting role.  They just need him to finally be healthy and figure out how much he can catch.  They have plenty of other talent all around to put together a viable catching position as long as Mesoraco can support them just a little.