by Ray Kuhn
We have been waiting three years for this, so now that Devin Mesoraco has got off to such a prolific start will it last? What can we expect from Mesoraco moving forward?
Before we go too in depth must be noted that Mesoraco’s 2014 body of work consists of just ten games (through Monday). His season got off to late start due to a minor injury, but that has not seemed to affect him as he is batting .541 on the season with three home runs and 12 RBI. Currently he is batting towards the bottom of the order. While according to Reds’ manager Brian Price a change isn’t imminent, I would not be surprised to see Mesoraco batting more towards the middle of the order if he keeps this up.
Regardless of who you are, keeping this pace up is not possible. That said, it’s very possible Mesoraco has finally turned a corner towards living up his expectations. We always knew that he was talented, but in the past there were a few obstacles standing in his way. They are now gone, which plays a large factor in his early season hot streak.
Under former manager Dusty Baker, Mesoraco was constantly looking over his shoulder. Baker never truly gave the catcher a full and complete shot at the number one job. He did play in 103 games last season, but Ryan Hannigan was always lurking in the shadows and I don’t think Mesoraco was truly comfortable. He showed flashes of what could be, including hitting .294 in 20 games with two home runs and 10 RBI in July of ’13, but he never put it together for an extended period.
Mesoraco has talent, is in a hitter’s park and has opportunity. Plus he is only 25-years old, so it is quite reasonable for him to just now begin to realize his potential.
In 2012 Mesoraco hit .212 in 54 games with five home runs and 14 RBI and followed that up by hitting .238 in 103 games last season with nine home runs and 42 RBI’ Yes, the average was not there, but what was clear to me is that Mesoraco does have power and can drive in runs when given an opportunity.
The RBI are something that I would expect to continue, but I don’t think he can keep up his current home run pace. That is perfectly fine, and I think Mesoraco owners would be comfortable with the 15 home runs you can expect from him this season. In fact, in each of the last three seasons his fly ball percentage has decreased from 37.9% to 33.8% to 22.6%. Conversely, his line drive rate has increased from 16.7% to 21.1% to 35.5%. For a young hitter looking to realize his potential, hitting line drives is an asset.
Mesoraco started the season as a high upside second catcher requiring only a low cost investment, but it is very possible that he ends the season as a low end number one catcher. I think a .265 average with 15 home runs and 70 RBI is very possible, which makes him a catcher worth considering in all formats.