CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Use... (03/27)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Platoon... (03/26)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Strong ... (03/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Western Front: The Rel... (03/27)

March 27, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Second Chances

by Daniel Rathman

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Mesoraco retains number-two catcher job with Reds

The Reds kept Devin Mesoraco in the majors for the duration of last season, even though the young catcher scuffled in a cup of coffee at the end of 2011 (.180/.226/.360) and was not overly impressive in Cactus League play (.250/.295/.450). Once considered among the top catching prospects in baseball, Mesoraco ranked as the second-best minor leaguer in the Reds system in back-to-back years, according to Kevin Goldstein, who also billed him as the 24th-best prospect across all organizations and positions entering 2012.

Unfortunately, the Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania native left those hoping for the end of winter a breakout waiting for another year. He managed only a .212/.288/.352 triple-slash line and served as a glorified backup to Ryan Hanigan instead of stealing playing time from the steady, but unspectacular veteran. In September, mid-season pickup Dioner Navarro overtook Mesoraco on the depth chart, capping off a disappointing year.

Goldstein, like most other evaluators, expected Mesoraco to develop into an “above-average catcher with the ceiling of an occasional All-Star." And since he won’t turn 25 until June 19, he still has plenty of time to reach those heights. Mark Anderson, who compiled the under-25 list in Jason Parks’ recent look at the Reds’ farm system, moved Mesoraco into the organization’s top five young talents, citing his ability to stick behind the plate and his still-present 20-homer ceiling. Meanwhile, although general manager Walt Jocketty brought in some veteran competition to push Mesoraco this spring, the organization has decided to give him another shot.

John Fay, who covers the Reds for the Cincinnati Enquirer, tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that Mesoraco had earned a spot on the Opening Day roster, after confirming the news with manager Dusty Baker. The skipper, whose proclivity toward veterans is well documented, responded to the query with, “It’s not like he didn’t earn it,” referring at least in part to Mesoraco’s .361/.425/.611 effort over 40 plate appearances.

Mesoraco was widely expected to stay in the majors entering the offseason, but Jocketty cast some doubt on his status by signing Miguel Olivo to a minor-league deal on February 1. Whether the Reds added Olivo simply to motivate Mesoraco or legitimately intended to keep the veteran if the youngster continued to struggle is uncertain; regardless, the 34-year-old left the 24-year-old with only a short hurdle to clear by going 6-for-36 with 13 strikeouts in his 39 trips to the box. The Reds offered Olivo $100,000 to stay in the organization and report to Triple-A Louisville, but even if he takes the bonus, he’s likely to function as organizational depth rather than forcing Mesoraco to look over his shoulder. 

The question now is how many at-bats Mesoraco will be able pilfer from Hanigan in 2013. A 32-year-old late-bloomer, Hanigan was worth 1.7 WARP last year, and the coming season will be his last playing on a below-market (three-year, $4 million) extension signed in March 2011. With four years and 77 days of major-league service time, Hanigan will be a third-year arbitration-eligible player next winter, and if he remains Cincinnati’s primary catcher, that should put him in line for a healthy raise.

In addition to being underrated because of his discipline-oriented profile at the plate, Hanigan also ranked among the top 10 pitch framers in baseball in Mike Fast’s study published in September 2011. If the Reds factor in the value added from Hanigan’s glovework, then it could become more difficult for Mesoraco to usurp playing time, even if he shows improvement offensively.

PECOTA is bullish on Mesoraco’s chances of taking a step forward this year, projecting him to provide 1.0 WARP over 253 plate appearances. That forecast includes 10 home runs, which actually would be even more optimistic than Anderson’s long-term 20-homer ceiling, if it were prorated to a full season’s worth of at-bats. Some teams, such as the Braves—who deployed David Ross as an elite backup to Brian McCann—have in recent years reaped the benefits of fielding two quality catchers, but if Mesoraco finally comes through with a long-awaited breakout, Jocketty could choose to dangle Hanigan in trade talks next winter.

Injuries force Padres to juggle Opening Day infield plans

Padres fans were supposed to get a glimpse into their team’s future at the keystone this season, with rookie Jedd Gyorko battling sophomore Logan Forsythe for the starting job at the position. Instead, a pair of spring training injuries has shifted the spotlight to the hot corner, where Gyorko is now expected to play when Bud Black’s team takes the field in Queens on April 1.

A couple of weeks ago, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman heard from sources connected to the Padres front office that Gyorko was “on the verge of winning” his competition with Forsythe. At that point, though, third baseman Chase Headley, who was blocking Gyorko’s major-league-ready bat, was still healthy. Five days later, Headley broke his thumb, opening up the hot corner, where Gyorko is a more natural defensive fit, for at least the first few weeks of the regular season.

Headley, who exploded to the tune of 31 homers and 5.3 WARP last year, has two more years of team control remaining before he can test the free-agent waters. The Padres tried to initiate extension talks this offseason, but the gap between the sides was sizable, and the 28-year-old ultimately settled for an $8.575 million payday in 2013, his third of four years of arbitration eligibility. If future attempts to keep Headley in San Diego for the long haul prove fruitless, general manager Josh Byrnes could be forced to decide whether to put his best position player on the trade block. And, from that standpoint, the opportunity to see what Gyorko could offer in his stead is useful.

Unfortunately, while Gyorko’s late-spring move to third might have cleared the path for Forsythe to play second, the University of Arkansas product appears likely to follow Headley onto the disabled list. According to MLB.com beat writer Corey Brock, Forsythe suffered a setback with a foot ailment that has bothered him for most of this month, and he is now a long shot to be ready for Opening Day. That means the keystone will, temporarily, go to Alexi Amarista, who profiles better as a utility man, but—per Nick Faleris’ under-25 segment in the Padres’ prospect rankings—has the upside to suffice as an everyday placeholder.

And, as a result, the position battles that were supposed to be waged in March will now drag into April, at the end of which Black and Byrnes will be forced to render a decision about their depth chart. Headley will swipe third base from Gyorko as soon as he returns, so the fifth-ranked prospect is competing directly with Amarista and indirectly with Forsythe, who might spell either of the infielders if his foot heals faster than Headley’s thumb. A strong April from Gyorko is likely to lead the Padres to look past his defensive shortcomings and move forward with the transition to second base. If Gyorko falls into an early slump, though, the keystone could be a revolving door for much of the year.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

Related Content:  Padres,  Reds

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Use... (03/27)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Platoon... (03/26)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Strong ... (03/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Western Front: The Rel... (03/27)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: Starving Young Royals, Bat...
Premium Article The Prospectus Hit List: Wednesday, Septembe...
Eyewitness Accounts: September 17, 2014
Premium Article What You Need to Know: September 17, 2014
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Streaming Strikeouts
The Lineup Card: Eight Memorable Final-Week ...
Premium Article Skewed Left: How to Change Things When Chang...

MORE FROM MARCH 27, 2013
Premium Article Prospectus Preview: These Questions Three: T...
The Lineup Card: 8 Spring Training Stats We ...
Premium Article Baseball Therapy: The Lessons of Lohse
Baseball Prospectus News: MLB Depth Charts T...
Premium Article Western Front: The Reluctant Optimism of Spr...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Use Your Disabled List
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Expert-League Auction Com...

MORE BY DANIEL RATHMAN
2013-04-01 - What You Need to Know: Opening Day Madness
2013-03-30 - Rumor Roundup: Setting the Stage
2013-03-28 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Strong Side, Weak Side
2013-03-27 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Second Chances
2013-03-26 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Platoon Havens
2013-03-25 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Center of the Fold
2013-03-21 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Turnover in Miami
More...

MORE RUMOR ROUNDUP
2013-11-04 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Restarting the Rumor Mill
2013-03-30 - Rumor Roundup: Setting the Stage
2013-03-28 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Strong Side, Weak Side
2013-03-27 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Second Chances
2013-03-26 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Platoon Havens
2013-03-25 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Center of the Fold
2013-03-22 - Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Dearth of Infield Depth
More...