View Full Version : Mesoraco soaking it all in at camp

03-12-2009, 01:57 PM
This article is from three days ago.

Mesoraco soaking it all in at camp
Reds catching prospect remains a work in progress defensively

By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It's the type of reputation a young catcher desires to pick up as he rises through a farm system. Reds prospect Devin Mesoraco wants to be more of a pitcher's best friend than the double play.

"This year, I want to be a guy the pitchers want to throw to, just from the calling the game standpoint and working with them," Mesoraco said. "If you can do that, you can go a long way."

Mesoraco, who was the Reds' 2007 first-round Draft choice (15th overall), is in his second Spring Training, but his first with the big league club as a non-roster player. Baseball America recently rated him the 10th-best prospect in Cincinnati's organization.

One of eight catchers in camp, Mesoraco has had the opportunity to work with most of the Major League-level pitchers in bullpen sessions. Working with guys like Aaron Harang or Bronson Arroyo that have years of experience has been different for Mesoraco.

"Sometimes as you catch the guys with the best control, it's almost easier on you," Mesoraco said. "You just sit there and they hit your glove. It's a lot better. The part of my game I need to work on is the mental part of catching, calling pitches and just helping out."

Obviously, it will be a tougher job this season being behind the plate in the Florida State League, where pitchers' instincts and control aren't as refined.

"It's not something you'll get overnight, but you do get the hang of it," said Mesoraco, who is likely to begin at Class A Sarasota. "You have to go through calling games and just get the experience."

Last season, the 20-year-old Mesoraco played at Class A Dayton in the Midwest League. Showing some offensive improvement, he batted .261 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 83 games.

Behind-the-plate skills were a work in progress last season as Mesoraco committed 15 passed balls to go with nine errors. Nineteen of 109 runners were caught stealing. His position is probably more challenging to perfect than anywhere else on the field.

"From a defensive standpoint, I think it takes a lot longer than, let's say an outfielder, just to get the hang of it," Mesoraco said. "There are some many different aspects -- blocking, calling a game and receiving. You have to get the hang of everything before get to the next level."

Reds manager Dusty Baker has really gotten to see Mesoraco only catch in the bullpen, but hasn't been able to work him into games behind the plate -- only as a designated hitter. Mesoraco is 2-for-6 (.333) through three games.

Primary catcher Ramon Hernandez caught most of the games early on and backup Ryan Hanigan has taken most of the innings since Hernandez left for the World Baseball Classic.

"I probably won't see [Mesoraco catch] in a game," Baker said. "His arm was a little sore the day he was supposed to catch. That's a position you play one at a time. These are the guys that get the least amount of at-bats in Spring Training, especially at the beginning. You have six to eight catchers."

Mesoraco has some work to do offensively. He spent his first pro season getting used to wooden bats. Last season, he made improvement, but most of his power, and all of his homers, had him pulling the ball to left field. This year, he plans on trying to go toward the middle and using the whole the field.

Whether or not he gets into an exhibition game behind the plate, the opportunity of being in camp is viewed as a privilege by a 20-year-old with just two professional seasons behind him like Mesoraco.

"Just being around some of the veteran guys, I keep my mouth shut and watch them," Mesoraco said. "I observe and learn different things that can help me down the road."


03-15-2009, 04:08 PM
I was worried they would go ahead and start him in Sarasota, not a wise decision IMO. Look for continued talk of him being a bust, kid can't catch a break.

03-15-2009, 04:27 PM
He seemed to handle himself well with the big club, so it wouldn't surprise me to see him break out with Sarasota early in the year. I think Dayton would have made slightly more sense for him, but I'm confident that he'll do a good job in A+.