The Seedlings To Stars 2012 Top 100 Prospects, #12: Devin Mesoraco

Name: Devin Mesoraco
DOB: 6/19/88
Organization: Reds
Position: Catcher
Notable 2011 Stats: .289/.371/.484 with 36 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 83/52 K/BB, and 1-for-2 SB in 120 games with Louisville (AAA);
.180/.226/.360 with 3 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 10/3 K/BB, and 0-for-0 SB in 18 games with Reds

Why He’s This High: A lot like #16 prospect Wil Myers, Mesoraco doesn’t necessarily look like a top-20 prospect on paper. He turned 23 at midseason and put up a very-good-but-not-tremendous .855 OPS in Triple-A before struggling a bit in a September look with the Reds. But when you get down to comparing him with the other prospects out there, few stack up. After all, Mesoraco is a catcher who has more than proven himself offensively at every level of the minors and is set to open 2012 as a quality regular backstop at age 23.

It seems like he lost power after a 2010 season that featured a .587 SLG, but really, ten of his homers turned back into doubles–his extra-base hit rate was just slightly below that of 2010. He should be a 20-HR threat in the big leagues. Mesoraco also has a good approach at the plate, as his K/BB held steady at around 3/2 in both Double-A in 2010 and Triple-A this year.

Defensively, Mesoraco will undoubtedly stick behind the plate, as he calls a good game and blocks pitches solidly. After throwing out 41% of runners in 2010, he only nabbed 26% in 2011, but his arm strength is above average.

Why He’s This Low: Mesoraco doesn’t have any major weaknesses, but he also doesn’t have one overwhelming tool. He likely won’t be a .300 hitter, a 30-HR player, or an elite defensive catcher. It’s easy to imagine him just being the 3rd-5th best catcher in the NL for eight years; that has a ton of value, of course, but there’s not all that much to “dream on” here. Part of that, of course, is that Mesoraco has an extensive track record, so it’s easier to get a good feel for what his major league production will look like than it is to predict what someone like Manny Machado or Xander Bogaerts will do.

The decline of his over-the-fence power and caught-stealing percentage aren’t anything to get too worked up about, but they’re there.

Conclusions: Mesoraco may not be a star, but it looks like his floor is “average starting catcher,” and that’s got a ton of value. It’s quite likely that he’ll be a well-above-average backstop for many years, contributing in every facet of the game save for baserunning. If he can return to 2010 form, he could be a regular All-Star selection, but even if he’s more of a doubles hitter and he doesn’t shut down the running game, he should have a career equal to that of the backstop he’s replacing in Cincinnati, Ramon Hernandez.

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds Devin Mesoraco