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Thread: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

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    Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    By Mark Maloney
    http://www.kentucky.com/232/story/683626.html
    Punxsutawney, Pa., is known for a groundhog named Phil, who comes out of his Gobbler's Knob burrow every Feb. 2 to predict the weather for the rest of the winter.

    There's even a Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, which notes on its Web site that there has been one Phil prognosticating — with 100 percent success — for the last 120 years.
    Soon, though, Phil might have competition for the title of Punxsutawney's most famous resident.
    When the Reds Caravan recently visited Lexington, Mesoraco and Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips were on hand to represent future and current Reds.

    Mesoraco, 20, is a 6-foot-1 200-pounder and was drafted by the Reds directly out of Punxsutawney High School. He joined Dan LaMar (1979) and Dan Wilson (1990) as the only catchers taken with Cincinnati's top pick.
    At "Punxsy," as locals often refer to their town, Mesoraco blew out his elbow as a sophomore pitcher. After undergoing Tommy John surgery, he spent his junior season as a DH, then went behind the plate as a senior.
    He set Punxsy career records for runs (122), hits (101), doubles (25), homers (18), walks (91) and stolen bases (35). The Reds signed him for $1.4 million.

    A right-handed batter and thrower, he made his pro debut with the 2007 Gulf Coast Reds. His modest 40-game totals of one homer, eight RBI and a .219 batting average didn't stop Baseball America from listing him as the sixth-best prospect in the Reds system.
    His first full season of pro ball came last year with the Dayton Dragons of the Low-A Midwest League. Over 83 games, he hit .261 with nine homers and 42 RBI despite nagging thumb injuries. He hit .294 before the All-Star break, .245 after.
    "Everything's a huge adjustment compared to high school," Mesoraco said. "Every single aspect — catching, hitting, calling the game. It doesn't even really compare.

    "You've got to get used to the way they're doing things and just roll with it. You've got to do what you can do, and your talents will show."

    As for handling Reds pitching prospects, well, Devin's not in Punxsutawney anymore. Spanish is needed.
    "Oh, yeah. ... I had a couple of years of Spanish in high school," Mesoraco said. "I wasn't great, but I can communicate a little bit with them guys. ... It's sort of fun talking to them sometimes. Different cultures and everything."
    Baseball America rates Mesoraco as the No. 10 prospect in the Reds system this year and notes that "once his thumbs healed, he was Cincinnati's best player in instructional league."

    The Reds have invited him to spring training. Pitchers and catchers report to the City of Sarasota Sports Complex in Florida on Feb. 14. Position players are due Feb. 17.
    "I'm going to big-league spring training, so I'm real excited for that," Mesoraco said. "(I) get to learn from the major-leaguers and everything. But, for the season, I'm just hoping to be in High-A (Sarasota). But we'll see. It doesn't matter where you start; it matters where you finish. I'm just hoping to have a good year and, hopefully, I'll just help my team win ball games."
    Mesoraco picked up some tips last spring from Johnny Bench. The Hall of Famer "looked me up in the minor-league clubhouse and just gave me a few points, looked at my glove and just told me to work hard and go out and do my thing.
    "I mean, to learn from somebody like that, no matter what he tells you, you've got to listen to him. He's the greatest catcher of all time, you know."

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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    I wonder if there will ever be an article written about Mesoraco that doesn't mention a groundhog.

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    Member Superdude's Avatar
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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    That would be a sad day

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    We are the angry mob cincyinco's Avatar
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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    I don't care what anyone says, I can't help but root for this kid... Even though I have serious doubts.
    "I hate to advocate chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone... But they've always worked for me."

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Quote Originally Posted by cincyinco View Post
    I don't care what anyone says, I can't help but root for this kid... Even though I have serious doubts.
    I just have a hard time having doubts just yet. Too me it's logical to come out of H.S. play 40 games in pro ball and struggle, the next season go to 83 pro games and fall of in the 2nd half. Yeah defensively I did expect more but at this point I am still on the fence without much movement since he was drafted. This year though I expect a bigger and better jump and if not I will be leaning towards him being a bust with maybe one more season after to prove me wrong. After that he's a non prospect to me. That might be seen as giving him too much rope but again he was a 18 yr old H.S. catcher, he had a long way to go from the get go.
    "You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    I didn't realize that he had only one year at catcher in HS. That makes me want to be more patient with him. That's got to be such a huge learning curve, only one year catching and then pro ball.

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Mesoraco is a good kid and everyone who knows him roots for him. He is a bit quiet but does not have an ounce of prima donna attitude. He is just a good, hard-working, blue-collar, well-raised kid who has a lot of pressure on him because of the round he was drafted.

    All that being said, he has a long, long way to go just to ever be an average Double-A catcher. I hope he gets there. Odds are against him ever being a major league player in my mind but he can prove me wrong and I hope he does.

    The thumbs issue is one that I am a bit intrigued by. I don't think it would be a factor in the numerous clanks off the catcher's mitt, but offensively, perhaps. Anyone who attended Dragons games in 2008 saw Mesoraco frequently lose the bat at the end of his swing, always at the same moment, and the bat wound up flying toward the third base on-deck circle. When I have seen guys do that, it is usually because they are relieving tremendous pain (you see this when guys try to play through sprained wrists). His thumb/s might have been bothering him a lot more than he let on.

    I asked Mesoraco about this point blank last season. He kind of skirted the question. I think he is the type of personality who would never want to make an excuse for anything, so that may have been why.

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    We are the angry mob cincyinco's Avatar
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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    About the thumbs.. Was he playing all last year with them? And are they now healed?

    Since then he's been the reds best in instructionals?

    Is that also everyone else's understanding, because if so it gives me a smidgen of hope he could break through this year, but im sceptical.
    "I hate to advocate chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone... But they've always worked for me."

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Quote Originally Posted by redsof72 View Post
    Mesoraco is a good kid and everyone who knows him roots for him. He is a bit quiet but does not have an ounce of prima donna attitude. He is just a good, hard-working, blue-collar, well-raised kid who has a lot of pressure on him because of the round he was drafted.

    All that being said, he has a long, long way to go just to ever be an average Double-A catcher. I hope he gets there. Odds are against him ever being a major league player in my mind but he can prove me wrong and I hope he does.

    The thumbs issue is one that I am a bit intrigued by. I don't think it would be a factor in the numerous clanks off the catcher's mitt, but offensively, perhaps. Anyone who attended Dragons games in 2008 saw Mesoraco frequently lose the bat at the end of his swing, always at the same moment, and the bat wound up flying toward the third base on-deck circle. When I have seen guys do that, it is usually because they are relieving tremendous pain (you see this when guys try to play through sprained wrists). His thumb/s might have been bothering him a lot more than he let on.

    I asked Mesoraco about this point blank last season. He kind of skirted the question. I think he is the type of personality who would never want to make an excuse for anything, so that may have been why.
    I actually talked with Devin a week ago and his thumbs were something we talked about. He was still dealing with the problem at times last year. He said that a few weeks off at the end of the season really helped out and its why he was able to hit so well in fall instructional league (where he won the MVP). At the time he may not have wanted to make excuses, which I think is a good trait to have, but in hindsight he was a little more willing to talk about it.

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    If he makes MLB by 24 it is a huge addition. In reality it comes down to 1 simple fact....... health will determine his future. The position he plays is a meat grinder and if he endures he can be a true star at his position. It is far to easy to say this kids a wasted pick , he is most definitely not and deserves the same rope we have taken on High School pitcher Homer Bailey
    2006 Redzone mock Draftee's- 1(st) Daniel Bard(redsox), 1(st sup)( Jordan Walden (Angels), 2(nd) rd.- Zach Britton(Orioles), 3(rd) Blair Erickson(Cardinals), 3(rd) Tim Norton( Yankees),(cuz its a Tim Hortons thing

    Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory... lasts forever.

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Quote Originally Posted by cincyinco View Post
    I don't care what anyone says, I can't help but root for this kid... Even though I have serious doubts.
    I root for all of our prospects, but I hear ya on the serious doubts. I have serious doubts about many of our prospects, but that's just b/c they're Reds prospects and given the Reds recent history with developing draft picks...

    ... at least 3 guys making the show in 2008 bucked the trend...

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    Will post for food BuckeyeRedleg's Avatar
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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Was this just a signability pick? You just have to wonder why they would draft such a project. I'd rather they took a chance on a HS arm.

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Quote Originally Posted by Spazzrico View Post
    I didn't realize that he had only one year at catcher in HS. That makes me want to be more patient with him. That's got to be such a huge learning curve, only one year catching and then pro ball.
    Same here. That makes me doubt his effectiveness as a potential Major League Catcher even more.

    I've got to assume that scouts saw something special in his swing and that's why they signed him. For the next several seasons, I've got to trust the scouts. By 2012 though, I expect there to be something more obvious for the rest of us to see.
    Last edited by Kingspoint; 02-08-2009 at 10:18 PM.

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Quote Originally Posted by BuckeyeRedleg View Post
    Was this just a signability pick? You just have to wonder why they would draft such a project. I'd rather they took a chance on a HS arm.
    I much would have had a proven College player. Not happy with Krivsky and that pick at the time, but Krivsky knows talent a lot better than 90% of them out there, so until proven otherwise, it was the right pick at the time.

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    Re: Reds' top catching prospect still adjusting

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    I actually talked with Devin a week ago and his thumbs were something we talked about. He was still dealing with the problem at times last year. He said that a few weeks off at the end of the season really helped out and its why he was able to hit so well in fall instructional league (where he won the MVP). At the time he may not have wanted to make excuses, which I think is a good trait to have, but in hindsight he was a little more willing to talk about it.
    I wonder what his expectations are? What his personal timeline is for reaching the Majors? I wonder if he understands that his timeline is a lot longer than others normally taken where he was taken because of his circumstances? And, if he does know that, I wonder if he's OK with that because many outside the organization will always, or at least his first 6 years as a pro, consider him to be underperforming, when within the organization, he'll be exactly where he's supposed to be?


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