At the start of the 2012 season, Cincinnati Reds' rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco was considered by many to be a possible favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year award. Forty-one games in, however, the 23-year-old prospect has yet to earn an everyday job behind the dish.
So, what's the hold up?
Fellow catcher Ryan Hanigan may just be one of the most underrated backstops in the game.
While he's not the type to put up earth-shattering numbers, the six-year veteran has quietly been one of Cincinnati's most dependable assets, both offensively and defensively, for several years. Now, Hanigan is finally getting a chance to showcase his talent more regularly, and he's not letting the opportunity pass him by.
With a .325 average and 27 hits through his first 25 starts, the 31-year-old is making it hard for Dusty Baker and company to find Mesoraco consistent playing time.
Even more impressive than his individual stat line is the fact that 16 of the Reds' 22 victories have come in games which Hanigan has started—a number that speaks volumes about his ability to call games behind the plate.
While it may only be a matter of time until Mesoraco passes Hanigan on the depth chart, there is no denying Hanigan's importance to the ball club. Catcher is one of the most critical positions on the baseball diamond, and there are a plethora of major league teams that would love to have Hanigan's services.
There is no telling what Hanigan's MLB future may hold, but for now, Reds fans should just consider themselves a lucky bunch.