Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Winton Place
Re: 1st Round Pick (15 overall): Devin Mesoraco, Catcher, High School
From the Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, a story about the top pick for the Reds.
PUNXSUTAWNEY - Some people believe in first impressions. For Mike Chroniger, it took just two days to notice that Punxsy senior catcher Devin Mesoraco would be a professional baseball player. "I knew it the second day I saw him. The first day, he was only there for a really short time," said Chroniger, who coached Mesoraco for three summers in the Mid-Atlantic Rookies baseball program. "The second day, I knew - it was kind of obvious that he was a player that was going to be a pro-ball player."
Chroniger was right, as just last Thursday, the Cincinnati Reds selected Mesoraco with their 15th overall pick in the MLB First-Year Player Draft.
While Mesoraco, a catcher, has been praised for his rocket arm, speed on the basepaths and powerful swing, it's personality that takes Mesoraco to a whole different level.
"Everybody's been saying all along that he's a tremendous athlete, and that he brings a level of play to the game. The bottom line is, he is a good person," said Doug Mesoraco, Devin's father. "They like his athleticism, and they know, based on that, that he's going to work hard."
After coaching Major League talents such as David Wright - who is playing for the New York Mets - and Ryan Zimmerman - who is currently a Washington National - Chroniger paralleled Mesoraco's personality and desire to Wright and Zimmerman.
"There's a lot of good ball-players out there that don't make it. Personality really helps - you have to be able to get along with coaches, players and the whole organization. Otherwise, you just become an individual playing baseball," Chroniger said. "Colleges and pro-teams are looking more and more about the (personality of the) player. That's why they do the player profiles. They do the evaluations and testings prior to (pursuing the player) to find out the makeup of the player, rather than 'Can he play?'
"There's kids out there that can play, but they can't be teammates," he said.
Tony Reid, who has coached against Mesoraco in Junior Legion action for Keystone Rehabilitation in Indiana, said he took some time out of a busy day to watch Mesoraco be drafted June 7 on ESPN2.
Reid works nearly three hours away from midnight to 8 a.m., and once he got home to Indiana at 11 a.m. June 7, he made sure to wake up before 2 p.m. to hear the calling of Mesoraco's name before coaching a Junior Legion game later that evening.
"That was important to me. I just wanted to see where he was called," Reid said. "Devin's just a really likable kid. That's really nice to see a kid that's put so much time and effort into it."
Mesoraco was part of Fezell's Enterprises' 15-and-under Junior Legion team as just a 12-year-old. Once he was 14 and the team's starting catcher, Mesoraco led Fezell's to the state championship.
"He's a leader, and he doesn't get excited when things are going bad," Reid said. "He's pretty level-headed, and he was like that at a young age. That's what's impressive about him."
When Fezell's Enterprises beat Marion Center in the Pennsylvania Junior American Legion championship in 2002, Marion Center manager Don Stitt watched Mesoraco hit a two-run, game-winning triple. Stitt said it was hard to judge whether Mesoraco would be a professional ball-player, but he loves the way Mesoraco approaches the game.
"I felt he could go a long way just because of the way he plays the game," said Stitt, who's in the middle of his 20th season as Marion Center's Junior Legion manager. "He's aggressive, and he plays very hard. When he's on the field, he's totally focused. I've coached for a long time, and that's the type of playing I like. Even if he's getting the hit to beat you, as an opposing coach, you appreciate guys that play hard."
When Mesoraco's name was called in the draft, not only close friends and family felt proud - former coaches and former opponents did nothing but smile because they know he deserved it.
Many who saw Mesoraco play knew he was good, but couldn't decide whether he had the ability to be a major leaguer. Chroniger, for certain, knew this day would come sooner than later.
"I'm as proud as I could be," he said. "I want to say I was as proud as (his) mom and dad. But I just knew that Devin would be picked. Devin was a given."