On December 3, the Cincinnati Reds completed a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Rays. As a part of the trade, the Reds traded catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Tampa Bay Rays, and received David Holmberg from the Arizona Diamondbacks. While this trade seems insignificant, Hanigan and then 25 year old Devin Mesoraco split the catching duties in 2013, with Hanigan taking 66 starts. With the trade, the Reds ensured that Mesoraco would be the starting catcher in 2014.
Fast forward about four months, in March, when the Reds began playing Spring Training games. Mesoraco went 8-for-29 with 3 runs batted in during his Spring Training tenure, but had to begin the 2014 season on the disabled list with a side injury. The Reds would have to be playing without their starting catcher. Mesoraco would have to wait to begin playing baseball.
Devin Mesoraco headed to the Reds' Double-A affiliate, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, on Thursday, April 3 to begin his rehab assignment. He caught three games, but only got on base twice, on walks. It turns out that would be the last time that anyone would be able to shut Mesoraco down, and keep him in a "mini-slump." He drove in one run, but nobody could have expected that he would begin his Major League season as hot as he has been.
Mesoraco appeared in his first regular season game against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 8. He hit two doubles, scored a run, and caught an entire game of Reds pitching. It turns out that would be only the beginning of troubles pitchers would have facing Mesoraco. Eight games later, and Mesoraco has posted an average higher than what his average was on April 8. He is 17-for-33 (.515) with three home runs and 11 runs batted in so far in his nine games.
If that wasn't all, Mesoraco has yet to be hitless in a game so far this season. He has a hit in all nine of his games, including six multi-hit games, and nine extra-base hits. If he qualified (with more at bats), Mesoraco would lead the National League in average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. That just goes to show how hot he has been to open up his 2014 campaign.
The Reds can only hope that Mesoraco keeps up his pace. It is super unlikely that Mesoraco ends his season with a .515 batting average. But for now, the Reds decision to make Mesoraco their starting catcher seems genius. Of course, until he has a bad game. But he might just have to go back to Double-A to do that.
This article could not have been possible without Hayden Wetmore (@Hay_Hayden on Twitter). He pointed Mesoraco's hot start out to me, and told me to write about it.