Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop. Backstop.
By Molly Brauch
It’s about time that the Reds’s best catching prospect became a star. After waiting patiently for two seasons, fans are finally seeing twenty-five year old Devin Mesoraco light up the game of baseball.
The youngster hails from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a town known more for its woodland creatures than its people. Devin Mesoraco was the first round draft pick of the Reds in 2007, the fifteenth player chosen in the entire draft. On September 3, 2011, Mes made his MLB debut. As a pinch hitter against the Cardinals that night, Mesoraco had his first major league hit, a double to left field, and the rest of his story is soon to be history. In his first two seasons in the big leagues, Mesoraco failed to impress fans with his batting average despite his great defensive skills. Two seasons behind starting catcher Ryan Hanigan and two seasons batting below .250, something needed to change for the young backstop. That change came before the 2014 season, when veteran Hanigan was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Another veteran catcher, Brayan Pena, was acquired as a backup backstop, and the starting position was opened to Mesoraco.
The end of Spring Training was rough for the new starter, however. Right before the season began; Mes strained an oblique and had to serve a stint on the Disabled List. This meant that the young catcher missed what would have been his first Opening Day start. Instead, veteran Pena took his spot in the devastating loss for the Reds. Many fans worried for the fate of the young prospect. Was this season going to be a reflection of Mesoraco’s first two?
Mesoraco has since hushed the worried crowds. Since his return, the catcher has batted .477 in forty-four at-bats with four walks and only nine strikeouts. The biggest change in Mesoraco’s gameplay has been his ability to put the bat on the ball. In twelve games, Mes has thirteen runs batted in, impressing even the most doubtful fan. Plus, his hitting streak that began this season was eleven games, one game away from tying a record set by Barry Larkin in 1995. Paired with his excellent defensive play, this Punxsutawney punk has proven his worth to the Reds. And what does Mesoraco think of his fire at the plate? Humble as ever in an interview with Mark Sheldon, Mesoraco stated, “I like to help the team score runs.” While it’s doubtful that the backstop will bat over .400 the entire season, Reds fans couldn’t be prouder of the way this season is shaping up for Devin Mesoraco.