[ In the second inning of last night’s game, Devin Mesoraco hit home run so high I thought it would be classified as a threat to public health. He then followed it up with a dinger in the ninth – single-handedly scoring more runs than the entire Diamondback’s starting 9. Given his commanding beginning of the season, I thought it would be appropriate to re-run this post that profiles our starting catcher. It was originally run a week before the season so some of the newer members of the Nation may have missed it. I hope y’all are enjoying your weekend, and let’s get ready for another Reds’ W tonight. -mdm]

We know that Homer Bailey has his own no-hitter saddle, hunts lions in Africa and even has his own Chuck Norris-style website. We know that Joey Votto studies advanced baseball statistics and goes through an endless supply of batting gloves. We know that Todd Frazier played in the Little League World Series and can rescue people from choking to death. Yet strikingly few authors have taken up the task of writing about the Reds’ new starting catcher, Devin Mesoraco.

First, the basics. He’s from Punxsutawney, PA, which is about 90 minutes from Pittsburgh. The Reds drafted Mesoraco straight out of Punxsutawney high school (the Chucks – where Devin began wearing red and white) with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft. Reports hailed him as one of the “hottest commodities” on the board. But when Mesoraco struggled early in his minor league career, the organization and fans were beginning to wonder if Yasmani Grandal, who the Reds took with the 12th pick in the 2010 amateur draft, was going to pass him by. The Reds settled that competition by trading Grandal in 2011 to San Diego as part of the deal for pitcher Mat Latos. Since then, Mesoraco has split time with Ryan Hanigan behind the plate. But now, as we start the 2014 season, Devin Mesoraco is poised to become the Reds everyday catcher and one of the team leaders.

But beyond this basic history, who is Devin Mesoraco?

Perhaps the most overwhelming part of a Devin Mesoraco interview is how modest he comes across when discussing his baseball accomplishments. When asked about a walk-off grand slam he hit in AAA, he was quick to mention that the wind was blowing out “pretty hard” that day. When asked about hitting well with runners in scoring position, he says that sometimes pitchers make mistakes and he will get a good pitch to hit. When asked about being drafted in the first round, he often says that he was “speechless” to be selected that high.

He is quick, however, to support his teammates. While he was coming up in the minor leagues he was often asked how it felt to be a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Immediately, Devin pointed out how much talent the Reds have and how he hoped to compete for a World Series. Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Mesoraco is how genuinely optimistic he is about his team. When he was playing for the Louisville Bats, he twice mentioned in an interview that they were about to make a run and could really perform well by the end of the year. The Bats, at the time, were 11 games out of first place. When asked about the mental errors the team was making, he replied that every team has its mental errors and they were going to overcome them. This team-first demeanor was present in every interview and article I found about Mesoraco.

There is one particular interview where we get a good look at Mesoraco in a relaxed environment. In a segment where his close friend, Todd Frazier, asks Devin ten fan questions, Mesoraco is asked what other position he would play if he didn’t play catcher. Quickly Mesoraco responds, “I think I could play third, no doubt about that.” Both of them laugh before Mesoraco takes the safe answer and says that he could be a pitcher (and therefore wouldn’t be replacing anyone on the current team). Perhaps one of the best moments is when Frazier asks Devin what his first glove was. Devin used a Nokona. Frazier quickly interjects that his first glove was a teenage mutant ninja turtles glove (Leonardo, for those of you who are wondering). You can tell that the two of them are exhausted from finishing a game but they are having fun with the interview.

An aside: While researching this article, I ran across a few great quotes from former catchers, such as: “God was never a catcher because, if He was, there would never have been a knuckle ball pitcher.” Devin Mesoraco, however, went above and beyond the call of linguistic duty in 2012 when he was trying to tell Aroldis Chapman to keep his release high. Devin used simplicity to overcome their mutual language barrier:

“Here is horse—-,” Mesoraco said with his arm at a sidearm angle.

“Here is bueno.” Mesoraco said with his arm overhead.

I expected to find hundreds of articles out there about Devin Mesoraco. He was, after all, the first pick in the 2007 draft. Yet, I came to the conclusion that his quiet demeanor and lack of headlines is how he wants go about being a major league player. He is thoughtful in his interviews and avoids the clichés that often dominate interviews with professional athletes.

For example, in perhaps the best interview I could find (by our own Bill Lack), Devin addressed the choice between college baseball and playing for the Reds. He was going to attend University of Virginia had he not been selected so high in the amateur draft. His reasoning: University of Virginia is a great academic institution. When asked about where he loves to play, he says Pittsburgh so that his grandparents can watch him take the field. It is hard to get Mesoraco to say anything about his own individual performance, but he is quick to tell you that his father taught him everything he knows about the game of baseball.

In an age when Twitter and social media have overwhelmed fans with exposure to athletes, it is refreshing to find someone who quietly goes about his job and tries to avoid the limelight. It seems perfectly appropriate for a man whose job requires him to wear an iron mask.

12 Responses

  1. Shchi Cossack

    Devin Mesoraco represents a HUGE unknown as the starting caatcher for the Cincinnati Reds. His performance on the field may be critical to any success during the 2014 season. What I am most anxious to see is his leadership. He presents himself as an honest, respectful, insightful, happy individual off the field, but once he dons his mask and steps on the field, he presents a fiery, focused, demanding persona with winning nad success as his paramount concerns. If he can meld those characteristics with a strong offensive and defensive performance, the Reds will have a winner on their hands.

  2. Steve Mancuso

    Watching Devin get starter playing time is one the things I’m most excited about this season. Most catchers are team leaders. I wonder how his personality meshes with an ability to become one.

  3. The Ott'r

    Devin comes from my hometown. I went to school with his Mom, and played football with his Dad. I wish him the absolute best this year. It’s been difficult at times watching as he has progressed, but patience has paid off, and now he’s got his chance. Make the best of it, Devin!

  4. Debbie

    I’m a baseball mom and read this for my 8 year old son. Actually, he’s made me a Reds fan. He’ll love this article. My son’s goal is to be Devin’s replacement upon Devin’s retirement, and on his way to accomplishing that goal. He’s catching for his 8u team this spring. My son actually got to meet Devin a couple of summers ago. When my son saw Devin (in street clothes) at Kings Island later that summer, Devin remembered my son by name. Amazing.

  5. SC24

    First, I read this site every day and this is the first time I’ve posted. You guys do a fantastic job and you should be commended for providing this kind of space for all of your fellow Reds fanatics.

    Now, the reason I’m posting is because I need to share a story about Devin and his family. I was lucky enough to win Sam LeCure’s tickets for the Friday night game in late September last year in Pittsburgh. You may remember the details, mostly because it was one of our last hurrahs last year. Anyway, the game came down to Devin hitting the in 8th, with Billy pinch running on 2b. Sam’s seats were right beside the other families, of which I think Devin must have had 15-20 in attendance. When he came to the plate, the entire three rows of his family stood up and locked arms. His dad couldn’t even watch, turning away from the field. Devin battled through the at-bat and ended up hitting a screamer to the SS hole. Long story short, the SS barely mishandled the ball, Billy scored from 2nd and Devin ended up on first. His family went absolutely nuts. His mom was screaming “THAT’S MY SON, THAT’S MY SON”. I jumped across the aisle and – as my wife recalls – jumped around like an idiot and hugged various members of his family.

    Later that night, walking back to our hotel, we ran into Devin and his family walking to the players hotel. His mom recognized me and my wife and stopped to talk to us. Devin talked to us for a minute, long enough to thank us for being there and bringing some friendly faces to Pittsburgh. His mom stuck around and talked to us for about 10 minutes. I told her how excited I was that Devin had been hitting well and how the more he plays, the better he will be. She just gushed about how proud he is to be part of the Reds and how he can’t wait to have the chance to be the everyday player. She also talked about how he has always been a leader on every team his been a part of and that she thinks he can fill the same role in a Reds uniform.

    It was a great experience that really gave us a glimpse of how much this opportunity means to him and how he feels about Cincinnati. I can’t wait to see how he does this season and to see him utilize this chance.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Thanks for sharing. What a great story. And do comment more often now that you’ve jumped in the pool.

    • Doug

      Love stories like this, These are the types of things that make us fans for life. GO REDS!

  6. Doug

    Homer has a website? LOL! Am I the last guy to know about this.

  7. Kathy Lynn Bryan

    Devin’s performance last night made me go vote for him for the All Star Game. Would love to see him there. He is blossoming as starting catcher.

  8. enigma

    Devin is the Reds’ 2nd best hitter. Quick bat, strong finish..he’s something special.

  9. Grand Salami

    Devin is making all those fanboys (myself included) who argued that he would improve with consistent playing time, look like geniuses. Thanks Devin.

    He will be at the zoo on the 4th taking questions from kids and insisting that he is not as strong as a gorilla. I wonder if RNL can get someone on the scene?

    Barring injury, he is projected to hit more home runs from the C spot than anyone since 1980. Can you guess who that was???

    • doctor

      “who argued that he would improve with consistent playing time, look like geniuses. ”

      yep, he is the wild card that could give Reds a tremendous advantage over most teams, plus offense catcher position. Hopefully, he can continue and this is a real indication of his talent. I recall reading several sites touting his power as he climbed the minors, the difference was some thought he could hit .300 in majors, others not so high on his bat hit skill.