Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A preseason preview of the Reds catchers

by: Matt Bollmann
Staff Writer

The Reds decided to stand pat at the catcher position heading into the 2013 season even with the struggles of Devin Mesoraco last season. The question heading into the 2013 campaign has got to be whether or not Devin Mesoraco can serve as a solid backup to Ryan Hanigan, who we all assume will gain the nod as the primary catcher. While Miguel Olivo was brought to camp this year as a non-roster invitee, it seems as though the plan is for Mesoraco to be the backup to Hanigan. Barring an outstanding spring, or injuries to Hanigan or Mesoraco, do not expect to see Olivo make the club out of spring. Olivo could serve as a backup plan and go to Triple-A Louisville out of spring if the club decides to do that.

Key Losses: Dioner Navarro (signed by the Chicago Cubs)

Key Additions: Miguel Olivo (Non-roster invitee to Spring Training)

Ryan Hanigan - Hanigan proved last season that he was a reliable guy behind the plate, as well as at the bat rack. He answered the question on whether or not he was the type of player that could serve as a reliable starter for a Major League club. Last season, he posted a .274 average with a .365 OBP. Hanigan is not the type of guy people expect to have a lot of pop in his bat. But he is a guy who gets on base and makes contact as his strikeout percentage has hovered at just 10% for the past couple years in the majors. Hanigan improved defensively as well last year throwing out runners attempting to steal 48.4% of the time compared to a 34.6% clip the year before. Look for Hanigan to get a majority of the playing time over Mesoraco this season as he will most likely start around 100-120 games.

Devin Mesoraco - Mesoraco was a huge disappointment in 2012 as he played in a total of 54 games, and was sent to the minors to pave the way for Dioner Navarro to make a splash in the majors. Mesoraco hit a woeful .212 with a .288 OBP. Mesoraco has a high ceiling for improvement this year, and the question surrounding him is whether or not he is a dependable backup catcher. His defense needs improvement as well as he threw out a combined 20.4% of runners trying to steal bases last season. Mesoraco has high hopes, but is he able to improve on the disappointment that was the 2012 campaign?

Guys we could see later in the year: Miguel Olivo, Corky Miller

Group Grade: B-
There is slight improvement over last year. Hanigan has improved all around as a player, and if Mesoraco does anything better than he did last year this is a decent group. While it does not match up with the likes of some other major league teams as far as a production standpoint goes, it still has the potential to be a very solid group. You won’t see many home run balls off the bat of Hanigan, but Mesoraco on the other hand has the potential to be a really solid homerun threat in the future.

Here is a look back at the past positional previews:

Monday (2/25) - Outfielders
Tuesday (2/26) - Infielders
Wednesday (2/27) - Catchers
Thursday (2/28) - Relief Pitchers
Friday (3/1) - Starting Pitchers

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