Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Preseason preview by position (C)

The future looks bright for Devin Mesoraco

In today's post we preview the toughest and most underrated position in all of sports -- catcher. But more specifically, the 2012 Reds catchers.

by: Will Hicks
Staff writer

Key Losses: Ramon Hernandez (Signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent in early-December) Yasmani Grandal (Traded to San Diego Padres as part of the Mat Latos deal in mid-December)

Key Additions:  Brian Esposito (Signed as a free agent in mid-December), Dioner Navarro (Signed as a free agent in mid-January)

The Reds made no significant signings at the catcher position. They added depth to the minor leagues as all the above, along with Tucker Barnhart, have been named as non-roster invitees but none are expected to make the team. Barring any injuries don’t expect to see any of those players at the major league level for significant amounts of time. If everything works out as planned and both catchers produce and stay injury free expect to see 2 guys share the majority of playing time throughout the season.

Ryan Hanigan – Hanigan has shown throughout his 5-year career with the Reds that he can produce at the plate while part of a platoon at the catcher position. He has averaged 84 games and 240 at-bats over the last 3 seasons. He shows a good eye at the plate, taking more walks than strikeouts in those same 3 seasons. Those stats along with his lifetime .275 batting average prove that he can play and produce as a platoon player. He has thrown out almost 36% of base-stealers during his career. Pitchers throughout the years have only been positive about the way he handles and calls a game on the defensive end as well. All this shows that he might be the perfect match and mentor to match with the young Devin Mesoraco.

Devin Mesoraco – Looking strictly at his limited 18 game and 50 at-bat MLB experience from last year, it doesn’t look great. He batted .180 with 10 strikeouts. However, sometimes it’s important to look past the numbers (or maybe dig-deeper). He showed some pop with 2 homeruns and 18 doubles. You have to expect, that as he gets more playing time he will get more comfortable. Of course, the Reds will have to ride the ups and downs that come with playing a rookie. However, the Reds don’t need the catcher position to be a primary source of offense. As long as they manage the game on defense and stay average on offense there shouldn’t be many worries. Ryan Hanigan and Devin Mesoraco should be very competent at this and should provide some consistency to the pitching staff and team as a whole.

Guys we could see later in the year: Corky Miller, Dioner Navarro

Group Grade: C
It’s always tough to grade groups. Should it be graded based on team needs? Or compared against other MLB teams? There are a lot of questions with this group. Can Hanigan play more than 90 games? Can Mesoraco show some offensive ability? Obviously the front office believes in both these players, but neither are proven stars. Expect this to be an average group that shows plenty of potential but will struggle at times. But this year, it seems that will be OK.

To take a look at any of the prior position previews published this week, click on the corresponding link(s) below:

Day 1: Outfielders
Day 2: Infielders
Day 3: Catchers
Day 4: Relief Pitchers
Day 5: Starting Pitchers

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