Today marks the day where I will look at the depth of each position in the system. Catcher will be the first spot I look at on the field for the Reds.
Devin Mesoraco still ranks at the top of my catchers depth chart. I believe he does have the best tools across the board of any of the catchers in the system. Mesoraco hit .228/.311/.381 this season, but experienced quite a bit of bad luck. He had half as many walks as strikeouts and showed plenty of power. The big key was that not only did he throw out 30% of the potential runners, from about mid May through the end of the year he threw out 48% of them. Not only do the numbers look improved, but all of the reports on his defense were incredibly better than last year as well. I think this kid is on the verge of breaking out.
Kevin Coddington burst onto the scene this year as he carried a .300 average in Dayton for most of the season before tailing off toward the end. Coddington has a strong arm behind the plate and at the plate covers the zone well. He has very little power, but could hit for a good average and play good defense behind the plate. Could follow the Ryan Hanigan track through the minors.
Chris Denove had a bit of a breakout year while splitting time in Carolina and Louisville. Denove hit .279/.347/.411 between the two stops, but at 26 years old he doesn’t have much time left to impress. The same thing can be said for Craig Tatum, who has not shown anything with his bat, but is a guy that calls a good game and can defend well. Tatum has spent some time with the Reds this season and could be their backup next season if they don’t head to free agency for someone to spell Hanigan from time to time.
Then there are a few guys from the 2009 draft. Mark Fleury seemed to struggle, but as noted in the draft review, his peripherals were seriously weighed down by an incredibly low BABIP. Much like Mesoraco, Fleury has shown some interesting things, but needs to have that luck turn around in a season for him.
Tenth rounder Tucker Barnhart didn’t get much playing time, but coming out of high school the scouting reports looked pretty solid on him. He has been praised for the mental side of the game, is quite athletic behind the plate and has a solid bat.
Overall the Reds catching position is lacking a big time prospect, as are most other organizations, but for the first time in a while it looks like 2010 could see the Reds have legit catching prospects throughout the entire system. I still think that a lot of it is based on potential though, so I would still probably grade the Reds catching as a C- to C until we see these guys begin to show more than just good potential.