With the 15th pick in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft, the Cincinnati Reds selected Devin Mesoraco from Punxsutawney High School in Punxsutawney, PA. Little did the Reds know that seven years later he would be hitting in the middle of the order and drawing, dare I say, Johnny Bench comparisons.
MesoRocket made his major league debut on September 3, 2011 in a pinch-hit appearance against the Cardinals. He went 1 for 1 and went to bed that night with a batting average of 1.000. He settled in nicely and quickly became the number-two catcher behind seasoned veteran Ryan Hanigan. Devin started 48 games in 2012 compared to Hanigan’s 98 and was obviously a star pupil under the tutelage of a defensive dynamo. Mesoraco had plenty of pop in his bat but his defense needed work as runners around the league tested his arm time after time. Hanigan was known around the league for shutting down¬†opponents’ running games, so the pairing was ideal.
Devin got his chance to take the reins as the number-one catcher last year as Hanigan battled a thumb injury all season long. Mesoraco started 84 games compared to Hanigan’s 66 and improved in every major category. The changing of the guard was made official in the 2013¬†off-season, as Hanigan was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Reds acquired free agent catcher Brayan Pe√Īa from the Detroit Tigers. I hated to see Hanigan go but there was just no denying that Mesoraco was the future franchise backstop and that this was the season to make it so.
Mesoraco has battled some minor injuries himself and has had a few brief stints on the disabled list. He recently spent about three weeks on the DL after pulling his hamstring rounding third.
Since his return this season he is arguably the team’s hottest hitter. Devin heads into tonight’s prime-time rubber match against the Cardinals sporting a hefty slash line of .384/.432/1.131 and the confidence of a world-beater. Also, his defense has improved tremendously with a .994 fielding percentage (compared to Yadier Molina’s .995 and Buster Posey’s .997).
This team hasn’t given me much to get excited about yet this season so why not shine the spotlight on one of the few players making some noise? I know it’s a wee bit early in his career to start throwing around the Johnny Bench comparisons. I am well aware of Yadier Molina, Buster Posey and Joe Mauer, but hey, this is Reds Country and Devin Mesoraco is ours.
The sky’s the limit for the kid from Punxsutawney and I am loving witnessing every minute of it.