COMMENTARY| Of all the Cincinnati Reds players who are in the most need of big league playing time for the development of their careers, 24-year-old catcher Devin Mesoraco tops the list. The prized prospect has reached the point where the "prospect" part has to convert to more tangible value with the seasoning of some major league experience now under his belt.
Mesoraco's qualifying rookie season was 2012, in which he faltered at the plate in limited action and did little to answer concerns about his development defensively, as well as handling pitchers. His rookie season became even more forgettable when he was passed over for the Reds 2012 postseason roster in favor of journeyman veteran Dioner Navarro.
Mesoraco capped his disappointing rookie campaign with a concussion from a homeplate collision and a suspension for making contact with an umpire during a confrontation over the strike zone while Mesoraco was catching.
As such, Reds Country concluded that there will be no second coming of Johnny Bench anytime soon. Now, Reds fans just want to see the catcher of their team's future.
No disrespect to current Reds starting catcher Ryan Hanigan, who is an outstanding defensive and game-calling catcher (first in the NL in 2012 in caught stealing percentage and a team ERA of 3.03 while he was catching), but Hanigan doesn't offer the potential complete package that Mesoraco does.
In the minors, Mesoraco has shown he's an above average hitter with power. He's also shown some aptitude with throwing out baserunners (41-percent caught stealing at three levels during 2010.) His progression has been impressive overall if not completely steady, but his time has come to show whether or not he can be a star in the big leagues.
With Hanigan recently placed on the DL, Mesoraco has gotten his chance to show if he can be the mainstay behind the plate and validate the Reds faith that the organization showed in him when they traded away catching prospect Yasmani Grandal and opted to keep Mesoraco on the roster at the outset of this season instead of Miguel Olivo.
Either that or else maybe the DL stint for Hanigan is really just a chance for veteran Corky Miller to be the second-coming of Dioner Navarro.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the 2012 Reds season here.
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