Baseball America has two interesting articles running that rank minor league catchers by caught stealing percentage and passed balls per 120 games. Here are how the Reds catching prospects fared.

Caught Stealing Percentage

18 Tatum, Craig    CIN AA/AAA 35 58  93 37.6% 
54 Mesoraco, Devin CIN   LowA 19 90 109 17.4%

Mesoraco’s #54 rating is next to last. Here is the writeup on him, which is not what I was expecting from the Reds 2007 first round pick:

The Bad

Devin Mesoraco: Little went right for the Reds’ 2007 first-round pick. The low Class A Midwest League isn’t kind to hitters, but scouts who saw Mesoraco came away disappointed in his conditioning. Though he did show some power, his offensive performance with Dayton was fairly pedestrian. He wasn’t much better defensively, struggling to throw out runners and committing 15 passed balls in 72 games. Mesoraco also battled through injuries to both of his thumbs, so he’ll get a chance to regroup in 2009, but it was not an auspicious debut.

Later, in the article’s comment area, a reader pointed out that Dayton pitchers were poor at holding runners on base and easy to run on. To that, the author noted: “But the rest of the Dayton catchers (mostly Jason Bour and Frank Meade) threw out 25.4 percent of base stealers (27/106) this year. Not great, but better than Mesoraco (17.4 percent), and reports from scouts back up the numbers.”

Overall, not a good sign for Mesoraco. Let’s hope his injuries contributed to his bad performance and he bounces back next season at High-A Sarasota.

Tatum on the other hand rated pretty well. I wonder why Hanigan was not included, too old maybe to be considered a catching prospect any longer?

The second article rated the catching prospects by passed balls per 120 games.

#  CATCHER           PCT  G   INN  E PB PB/9  Level PB/120 G 
4  Tatum, Craig    0.991 89 764.2  7  4 0.05 AA/AAA     6 
44 Mesoraco, Devin 0.985 72 622.0  9 15 0.22    LoA    26 

Mesoraco was once again rated very low, 44 out of 54. Note that for Low A ball for the last three years the average PB/120 G is 20. Craig Tatum, however, rated number 4. Note that for AA the average PB/120 G is 13. Tatum received the following glowing writeup:

The Good

Craig Tatum: Despite succumbing to Tommy John surgery three years ago, Tatum is now one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues. The Reds farmhand has good catching mechanics, records average pop times of 2.0 seconds and delivers throws to second base with a good throwing action, enabling him to nab 38 percent of base stealers in 2008. He controls the running game well, but he’s even better at keeping the ball in front of him, as he does a good job blocking and receiving and shows a knack for the finer points of catching like framing and calling pitches. One AL scout who saw Tatum this year projected him as a future regular, though he’ll have to improve his OBP after hitting .244/.297/.377 in Double-A this season. At 25, Tatum’s offensive projection is limited, but he has the defensive skills to at least get an opportunity as a backup.

The batting numbers above must include his 39 ABs in AAA also; I’m showing that he hit .253 .312 .403 715 at AA this season. His glove is definitely going to have to carry him to the majors, as his career minor league numbers — .254 .321 .391 712 — are close to what he hit at AA last year. Sounds as if he’d be a good candidate for a defensive-minded backup catcher a year or so down the road.

This article also notes that the Reds, using mostly Bako and Ross, tied for last in MLB last season with 13 PB. Ramon Hernandez averages 7.4 PB/120 G over his career, but over the last three season with Baltimore he averaged 10.5 PB/120 G. He’s going to have to pick it up to be much of an improvement in this area for the Reds this season.