While John is away, he asked if I would be interested in writing up a piece comparing the Cincinnati Reds 2007 first round draft pick Devin Mesoraco to the Cincinnati Reds 2010 first round draft pick Yasmani Grandal. If you are unaware of who I am, I run and operate RedsMinorLeagues.com and have since 2005. Let me preface this by saying that I have never seen Yasmani Grandal play live, so everything is either second hand information or something I picked up while watching video online, while I have seen Devin Mesoraco play live over 40 times in the past year.
Devin Mesoraco: Mesoraco is coming off of an outstanding season in 2010 where he spent time in A+, AA and AAA where he posted a triple slash line of .302/.377/.587 with 26 home runs in 397 at bats. The reason for his dramatic turnaround could be two fold. First, 2010 was the first season that he was able to stay healthy for the entire season. Secondly, he made some changes to his swing that helped get him into a better position to open up his previous untapped power potential. Tools wise, Mesoraco has above average power and a solid hit tool. He also has shown solid plate discipline throughout his minor league career.
Yasmani Grandal: Grandal played for all of a week in late August after signing with the Reds, so paying attention to any stats that he put up during his short stint as a pro is pretty meaningless. While in college, he showed good power overall as well as excellent plate discipline. As a switch hitter, Grandal is currently better from the right side of the plate than he is from the left, but from the left side he does have more potential. Tools wise, Grandal has more power potential from his left side than his right and overall probably grades out as above average. His hit tool is a little more questionable than his power though as he doesn’t have the bat speed and his swing can get a little long at times.
Devin Mesoraco: While he had some severe struggles behind the plate the first two years as a pro, he began to turn things around in the 2009 season behind the plate. Mesoraco has an above average arm and it is often accurate which can be seen by his caught stealing rate over 40% in the 2010 season. As a receiver, he has an issue with passed balls at times but there doesn’t seem to be a reason to believe that he isn’t an average receiving catcher behind the plate. He is quite athletic and has very good footwork that shows up on plays in front of the plate as well as when he is throwing down attempted base stealers.
Yasmani Grandal: The reports on Grandal behind the plate, much like Mesoraco, have seemed to have improved over the last two seasons. Grandal has an average arm behind the plate, but it plays down slightly as his footwork could be improved. His arm has improved its accuracy through his time in college and now considered to be an accurate one. His athleticism behind the plate is average or perhaps a tick below.
Devin Mesoraco seems to hold an advantage right now both offensively and defensively on Grandal. At the plate it seems that Mesoraco grades out right now where I could see Grandal getting to in the future if he continues to progress with his tools though Grandal could have an advantage in plate discipline. Behind the plate Mesoraco’s arm strength and athleticism give him a slight advantage over Grandal who may be a slightly better receiver but lacks the tools to be an elite defensive catcher. In the end, I would rate Mesoraco out as a clearly better prospect, but that isn’t a slight on Grandal, as Mesoraco is just more advanced at this point while having a slight edge in tools nearly across the board. The Reds look to be in good shape in the future with both of these guys in their system.