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Devin Mesoraco Joins 'From Phenom To The Farm:' Episode 62



Failure is a foreign concept for most high school first round picks, and Devin Mesoraco was no different. Other than Tommy John surgery as sophomore, not much had slowed down Mesoraco on the field at Punxsutawney (Pa.) high school.

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The 2007 grad wrapped up his high school career by winning a state championship and being drafted by the Reds as the 15th overall pick. Touted as an athletic catcher with a strong chance to stick behind the plate, Mesoraco quickly signed for $1,400,000 and was sent to the Gulf Coast League.

He then spent that summer learning a lot about failure.

“All that stuff was very challenging—I struggled initially,” said Mesoraco. “You go to Florida and it’s a thousand degrees, and I’d never played in heat like that (…) it became somewhat overwhelming, I didn’t play very well.”

His next two seasons at Low-A Dayton and High-A Sarasota didn’t go much better than his GCL stint. He struggled at the plate, and having to adapt to professional pitching also proved challenging for Mesoraco from behind the dish.

“I had trouble just catching the ball. I was very raw behind the plate—I’d never caught anybody who threw like these guys did,” said Mesoraco. “There would be games where I would literally drop fifteen balls.”

After dropping to #30 on the Reds Top 30 list heading into 2010, Mesoraco turned his career around. He repeated High-A to begin the year (the Reds affiliate had moved to Lynchburg), but hit his way out of the Carolina League after just 35 games, and would make his way to Triple-A Louisville by the end of the season. He’d overcome his early career struggles by figuring out a good plan of attack while at-bat.

“I’ll give you a ball on each corner of the plate—if you make a good pitch inside, you’ll get me out,” said Mesoraco. “I wanted to hit pitches in the fat side of the plate and do some pull side damage to them.”

2011 saw Mesoraco named to the Futures Game and make his big league debut as a September call-up. He’d cement himself as a big leaguer the following season, and in 2014 would turn in a stellar year, making the National League All-Star team and leading all big league catchers in home runs.

He parlayed that season into a four-year, $28 million dollar contract extension with Cincinnati, looking to build on his career year. Unfortunately, his body didn’t cooperate.

Mesoraco suffered season-ending injuries in back to back years, undergoing left hip surgery and left shoulder surgery in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Even upon returning, the shoulder injury its

their toll, limiting his ability to impact the baseball even when he was deemed healthy enough to be in the lineup.

“The game wasn’t fun anymore, after the shoulder,” said Mesoraco. “I knew that I wasn’t the same player, I couldn’t get in the same position to hit as I used to, didn’t feel like I had the same amount of zap.”

Mesoraco would play his last big league games in 2018, choosing to hang up his cleats after not making the Mets Opening Day roster out of 2019 spring training. While the last few years of his career had been limited by injury, affecting his career trajectory just as it seemed it was on the ascent, Mesoraco looks back on his career with no regrets.

“I wouldn’t change anything,” said Mesoraco. “Just let it play out the way that it plays out.”

On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm’ former Reds and Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco joins to talk early minor league struggles, how to pick your vibe as a Home Run Derby teammate, and catching peak Jacob DeGrom.

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