live video

Trump speaks at Phoenix rally; angry protesters gather outside

Surging Mesoraco ready for big second season

Forget the phrase “sophomore slump” when it comes to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. If anything, the organization might well be expecting a sophomore surge. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the former Pennsylvania high school player of the year.

Mesoraco has needed a longer learning curve at each level but has made a habit of showing noticeable improvement after getting acclimated to his surroundings.

After a rough year at Class A Sarasota in 2009, Mesoraco rebounded with big numbers in Lynchburg the following year. And although his first stint at Triple-A wasn’t memorable with Louisville, he followed that with an impressive campaign that saw him named an International League All-Star.

Last year, again, was a major struggle. Mesoraco hit .212 with the Reds and threw out less than one of every five runners who tried to steal. Making matters worse, he suffered a concussion in August, then was handed a two-game suspension for bumping an umpire.

But those counting out Mesoraco after last year’s rough go with the Reds beware: the former first-round pick is showing signs that he could be due to take yet another step.

“I think if you look back at some places it took a longer amount of time than others, but I’ve always had a little adjustment period,” Mesoraco said. “For me, it’s just a matter of feeling comfortable with my teammates, feeling comfortable with the level of competition. I realize I can do this, and then I go from there. And I do feel comfortable now.”

Heading into Saturday’s split-squad games, Mesoraco was leading the Reds in runs batted in this spring (10) and was in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak that pumped his batting average to .474.

And Mesoraco hasn’t just been better on offense. Last year, he struggled to handle the pitching staff, but manager Dusty Baker said he’s seen vast improvement in that area, too.

“He’s not only hitting the ball, he’s thrown well, he’s caught well. He’s really improved. Big time. He’s more confident. Devin, throughout his career, his second year at a level has always been better,” Baker said. “He wasn’t like Buster Posey, who went to college. He came out of high school. There’s a lot to learn, not only hitting, but catching, blocking, throwing, all kinds of stuff.”

Mesoraco now has plenty of experience with starters Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo, and that comfort level has translated to success in all aspects of his game. He’s hit a pair of home runs along with a pair of doubles, showing the kind of clout he displayed for Louisville in 2011 when he was fourth in the league in two-base hits.

“When you’re playing well, things happen a lot easier than when you’re struggling. For me, it’s all about defense. It always will be. That’s something I can do every day,” he said. “Hitting-wise you’re going to have tough days, you’re going to have some good days, but defensively you can be consistent, helping the pitchers out back there. That’s what I’m trying to do. I do feel defensively that’s where more strides have been made.”

Things have changed from a year ago, when many thought he might be ready for the everyday catching job. Expectations have eased, and Ryan Hanigan’s job as the starter has been cemented.

But Mesoraco is focused and should be ready if called upon. Although he’s still in a battle for the No. 2 catching post with Miguel Olivo, Mesoraco’s spring has put him in good position to retain the position.

“You’re only gonna get so many chances in this game. You need to take advantage. The game has a very short memory, and every chance I get I need to go out there like I’ve got to prove something today and do the best I can,” Mesoraco said.

“There’s always guys looking to take your job. I’m trying to stop that from happening.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

HS Football: Mechanicsburg confident despite roster turnover
HS Football: Mechanicsburg confident despite roster turnover

Over half the roster has turned over at Mechanicsburg. Who could expect another winning season, league title and return to the playoffs? The people inside coach Kurt Forrest’s locker room, that’s who. They aren’t worried about what those on the other side of the door might assume. The tradition established in recent seasons is one...
Reds notes: Schebler trying to make up for lost time
Reds notes: Schebler trying to make up for lost time

Scott Schebler didn’t know how much his shoulder pain was affecting his swing until it was gone. The Reds right fielder returned Friday from 18 days on the disabled list and has gone 4-for-8 with three doubles, two runs, one RBI and a walk. That’s as many hits as he logged in 52 at-bats over his first 17 games since the All-Star break,...
HS Football: With 13 starters back, Triad coach ‘excited’ about 2017
HS Football: With 13 starters back, Triad coach ‘excited’ about 2017

The high school football season hasn’t started yet, but the Triad Cardinals are already ahead of the game. The Cardinals return seven starters on offense and six on defense from a team that at this point last season was still getting to know first-year coach Joe Cardinal. Cardinal was hired just before the start of two-a-day practices. Triad...
Reds starter has surgery, out of rest of season
Reds starter has surgery, out of rest of season

Reds starter Scott Feldman had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the Reds announced Tuesday. Feldman was placed on the disabled list twice this season due to inflammation in his knee. <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">RHP Scott Feldman...
Reds prospect Trammell electrifying in Single-A Dayton 
Reds prospect Trammell electrifying in Single-A Dayton 

Reds outfield prospect Taylor Trammell is making noise in Single-A Dayton. Trammell is slashing .283/.367/.448 in 118 games. He’s increased his walk rate from 9.1 percent to 12.1 percent, while slightly lowering his strikeout rate from 22.4 to 21.3 in the last year. <div></div><br><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"...
More Stories