The Reds have a couple of minor league guys that continue to play well, and at some point, these guys are going to force Cincinnati’s hand. I’m talking, of course, about SS Zack Cozart and C Devin Mesoraco. John Fay had a piece on Cozart today:

Louisville shortstop Zack Cozart entered Friday with seven home runs this season. He also was batting .328 with a .371 on-base percentage, and that’s after a rough start.

Cozart’s hitting .455 in June and .462 over his past 10 games. He entered Friday with 11 extra-base hits in his past 16 games.

The Reds’ shortstops – Edgar Renteria and Paul Janish – entered Friday with 11 extra-base hits on the season and were hitting a combined .231.

Cozart also has a sterling reputation as a fielder. He had six errors in 59 games going into Friday.

You know I’m a big fan of Paul Janish, but when do the Reds look at Cozart and determine that he can give the club more than what they are currently getting?

Mesoraco isn’t exactly similarly situated — Cincinnati’s major league catchers are performing very well — but he’s doing everything he can to earn a promotion. Mesoraco has gotten a lot of love lately; Jason Grey has an Insider profile on the young catcher that includes this morsel:

Mesoraco, who turns 23 this weekend, posted a breakout season across three levels last year, putting up a .322 AVG/.377 OBP/.587 SLG stat line, and has carried over that offensive surge to 2011. He’s hitting .329 with a .406 on-base percentage, 21 doubles and eight homers in 57 games at Triple-A Louisville. His .552 slugging percentage is good for second in the International League.

So what happened? Besides the fact I think we need to be patient with the development of catchers, better health was a key factor. Mesoraco spent his first three seasons dealing with multiple injuries to both thumbs, as well as an issue with his left wrist. Mesoraco told me this spring he also got a little more serious about his workouts and preparation, and adjusted mentally, as well.

I’ll tell you what happened: before last season, Mesoraco joined us for a Redleg Nation Radio podcast, then went on to enjoy a breakout season. Coincidence? I think not.

Baseball Prospectus is even more effusive in their praise of Mesoraco, calling him the best catching prospect in the big leagues:

Mesoraco is showing a middle-of-the-order bat from a premium defensive position, which basically makes him one of the most valuable prospects in the minors. At the plate, the soon-to-be 23-year-old has plus power, with a leveraged swing and plus-plus raw strength. Seriously, Mesoraco is an incredibly strong man. He can sell out a bit when looking for the power stroke, but his contact ability hasn’t suffered this season; in fact, he is barreling the ball like a plus-plus hitter. The hit tool itself is sound, meaning I think he can hit for average, but I don’t foresee a .300 hitter at the major-league level. Mesoraco is aggressive at the plate, and he likes to take cuts, but he isn’t immune to working the count in his favor or taking the free pass, which adds another dimension to his offensive game.

Behind the plate, Mesoraco is slowly improving, but he’s never going to be a special defender. His arm is in the 60/65 range, and his release and accuracy make him a good weapon in controlling the running game. With enough athleticism to become a solid-average defender, and the ability to stick in the middle of a batting order, Mesoraco is the current Leader of the Pack among his catching brethren, and given the value attached to his position on the field, you can make a case that Mesoraco is one of the top-tier talents in the minors. He’s ready for the next challenge.


So…what should the Reds do with these two? You make the call.