Catchers Off To Red Hot Starts

CINCINNATI—All you have to do is look at the numbers to see how well Reds prized catching prospects Devin Mesoraco and Yasmani Grandal are doing at the plate.
Mesoraco was hitting .314/.410/.543 at Triple-A Louisville, while Grandal was batting  .273/.429/.571 at high Class A Bakersfield in his first real taste of professional baseball.

But, with catching, what a player is doing in the batter's box is only half the equation. Catching and throwing often determine a player's progress. An early May conference call indicated Mesoraco and Grandal were doing well on that front as well.

"We had all the managers on the call," said Bill Bavasi, the club's vice president of scouting, player development and international operations. "Both of their managers brought them up. They're doing very well. They're getting better and better.

"Grandal was less sure of himself going in. But (Bakersfield manager) Ken (Griffey Sr.) talked about how he's come on as far as throwing and catching. He's really paying attention to guiding the pitching staff. (Louisville manager) Rick (Sweet) talked about how Devin is paying attention to the finer point of catching and working with the staff."

Mesoraco and Grandal were both first-rounders—Mesoraco in 2007, Grandal in 2010. Both are 22.

Mesoraco had a breakout year last year. Going from high Class A Lynchburg to Double-A Carolina to Louisville, he hit .302/.377/.587 and led Reds minor leaguers with 26 home runs.

Grandal barely played last year after being picked 12th overall out of Miami. The Reds originally thought about starting him this year in Double-A, but opted for Bakersfield instead. A move to Double-A could come if he continues to hit and progress.

"We'd like to do that—absolutely," Bavasi said. "But when moving players, circumstance is always involved."


• Shortstop Zack Cozart got off to a slow start at Triple-A but he ended April with a 5-for-5 day and set a franchise record with four doubles. Cozart hit .225 for April and did not homer until the last day of the month.

• Righthander Brad Boxberger, the club's supplemental first-round pick in 2009, returned to Double-A after struggling there late last year. He hasn't struggled this year. After nine outings, he had a 1.42 ERA and had struck 20 in 122⁄3 innings.