Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Down on the Farm: Devin Mesoraco

Now is as good a time as any to check in on the Reds' first round draft pick, Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco is a catcher that the Reds drafted straight out of Punxsutaweny high school with the #15 pick.

As a senior, Mesoraco put up huge numbers (.467/.632/.911 with 4 HRs and 21 RBI) and captured the Gatorade Player of the Year, which honors the best player in Pennsylvania high school baseball. A season which is even more remarkable, considering that he underwent Tommy John surgery in his sophomore season and spent his entire junior season rehabbing his arm. Obviously, he's made a complete recovery.

Personally, I would have preferred to see the Reds draft Oregon State catcher Mitch Canham, as he has been an integral part of the past two College World Series championship teams and has a pure swing.

High school catchers are about as risky a selection as you can make, as they have a tremendous amount to learn and need a great deal of development time. The only thing that comes with more risk is a high school pitcher. Mesoraco was highly regarded by scouts, but unfortunately a lot can happen before a high school catcher will reach the majors.

That said, it is refreshing to see the Reds draft impact talent at premier defensive positions. As of late, all the Reds good prospects have played corner spots. The more valuable prospects are the ones that play up the middle of the field (c, ss, 2b, cf). Over the past couple of drafts, it seems the Reds focus has shifted towards prospects that play these premier defensive positions (Stubbs, Mesoraco, Frazier, Vailaka, etc), which is nice to see after watching such poor defensive play in Cincinnati over the past few years.

The Reds started Mesoraco with the Gulf Coast League Reds, which is about as low as you can go in minor league system. Unfortunately, Mesoraco has still struggled mightily with the bat. On the season, he's hitting .211/.307/.260/.567 with 14 runs, 1 homerun, and 7 RBI in 123 At Bats.

Given his age and the fact that it is his first taste of professional baseball, his poor performance means very little. Not to mention, he's been dealing with lingering thumb problems, which could also be impacting his performance.

While his performance has been poor, expect a big step forward next season from Mesoraco. He'll be healthy, experienced, and be ready to play. This half season is just for him to get his feet wet, so take the subpar performance with a grain of salt. Next year is when we will be able to see what we've got with Mesoraco.

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