Cincinnati Reds: Assessing Top Prospect Devin Mesoraco

Tyler Duma@@TylerDuma_BRFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2012

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 25:  Devin Mesoraco of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait during a photo day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 25, 2012 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
Rich Pilling/Getty Images

This offseason, the Reds let Ramon Hernandez test free agency. They also shipped highly-touted catching prospect Yasmani Grandal off to San Diego in the deal that brought Mat Latos to Cincinnati.

These factors led myself, and many other Reds fans, to believe that Devin Mesoraco would assume full-time catching duties in 2012.

Mesoraco has been on Baseball America's Top 100 list for the past two seasons (16 in 2012 and 64 in 2011). Mesoraco struggled a bit in his first big-league call-up, but take into account that it was only 53 plate appearances across 18 games.

In order to decipher just how good Mesoraco will be, you'll need to look at his minor league numbers and how he's progressed from season to season.

200992312718 32 37 .228 .311 .381
201011339712026 71 75 .302 .377 .587
201112043612615 60 71 .289 .371 .484

In 2009, doubts began to sprout up about whether or not Mesoraco could turn into anything more than a back-up at the major league level.

Mesoraco worked quickly to stifle those doubts in 2010 when he went off. Mesoraco's season catapulted him into the middle of the pack (No. 64) on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects of 2011 list.

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:   Devin Mesoraco #39 of the Cincinnati Reds connects for his first career Major League home run during the game against the Chicago Cubs on September 12, 2011 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Cubs defeat
John Grieshop/Getty Images

In 2011, Mesoraco's consistency began to develop, and he posted a very solid season which earned him; a AAA All-Star game selection, the No. 12 spot on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects of 2012 list, and a late-season call-up with the Reds. Mesoraco didn't do much with that call-up, but he did display some decent pop (2 HR in 50 AB).

Mesoraco developed as catcher in those seasons as well. As a matter of fact, his defense and game-calling abilities have progressed every season since he was drafted in '07.

In 2010, Mesoraco posted a .984 fielding percentage and a 7.42 range factor. He followed that season up in 2011 with a .986 fielding percentage and a 7.46 range factor. When compared to his first season in the rookie league (.975 fielding percentage and 7.11 range factor), you can see how far Mesoraco has come defensively.

Mesoraco is a stud at the plate. He shows the ability of a .280-plus hitter with 20-25 HR pop, and above average ability behind the plate. The 23 year old should work nicely in the Reds lineup for years to come.

My 2012 Projections: .279/.364/.480 with 17 HR, 58 runs scored and 60 RBI

Be sure to check out the rest of my prospect series: