Today, Baseball America listed their Cincinnati Reds organizational All-Stars and Yonder Alonso, Jeremy Hermida and Devin Mesoraco were all named to the team. Yasmani Grandal and Neftali Soto, who spent some time with Louisville late in the year, also made the team.
Here is what Baseball America had to say about each of these players.
Designated hitter — Devin Mesoraco, Louisville (120 games), Cincinnati (18 games): The Reds’ top pick in 2007 has continued to progress, earning Futures Game and International League All-Star honors in ’11. He saw solid playing time in the Majors with the Reds banged up at catcher in September.
“He keeps getting better, he’s an off the charts makeup guy, and he wants to keep improving. Every year he gets better — his game-calling, blocking, receiving, he’s taking steps forward,” said Graupe. “Offensively he’s shown what our scouts thought he would do.”
Graupe said he thinks Mesoraco will be in a position to make the Major League roster next spring, although the organization will re-evaluate expectations in the coming month for all players.
“That’s probably a better question for [Reds general manager] Walt [Jocketty], but I think hes going to come in and get every opportunity.”
Jeremy Hermida, Louisville (105 games): Hermida finished the season in the Majors with San Diego after the Reds waived him in September, but that shouldn’t diminish his .319 average with 17 homers and 55 RBIs as an IL All-Star with Louisville. This was Hermida’s first lengthy stay in the Minors since 2005, and he surely would have rather been up with Cincinnati, but nevertheless, he finished as one of just three Reds Minor League outfielders with double-digit homers.
“He was a great professional,” said Graupe. “[He] gave us consistent at-bats and we’re glad we could help him get to a good opportunity in the end.”
Yonder Alonso, Louisville (91 games), Cincinnati (47 games): Another former first-round pick, Alonso hit .297 at Triple-A with decent production numbers before getting solid time in the Majors, where he batted .330 for the Reds. He again played in the Futures Game and was an IL All-Star, driving in 56 runs in 91 games.
“He’s just a very professional hitter,” said Graupe. “Quality at-bats and he has the ability to drive mistakes.”
Catcher — Yasmani Grandal, Bakersfield (56 games), Carolina (45 games), Louisville (four games): It’s a toss-up here between Grandal, the Reds’ No. 1 pick in last year’s Draft, and Devin Mesoraco, who is a few months older than Grandal and posted just about equal stats. For Grandal, the 2010 No. 12 overall pick worked his way up to Triple-A in just his first full season (he played in only eight games in 2010) and led the Reds system with a .401 on-base percentage. In 15 fewer games than Mesoraco, the Miami product hit .301 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs; Mesoraco, who finished the year in the Majors, batted .289 with 15 homer runs and 71 RBIs at Triple-A Louisville.
“I think we were extremely happy with both of them,” said Jeff Graupe of the Reds’ Player Development department. “You look at Yasmani for a first-year player, to do what he did — the plate discipline and power combo from both sides of the plate. To hit .300 and get up to Triple-A in his first full season is pretty remarkable.”
Either way, the Reds have a good problem behind the plate with a pair of 22-year-old studs entering 2012. Graupe said Mesoraco’s plans for 2012 are not yet decided, but it’s a good bet that Grandal is back in Louisville.
First base — Neftali Soto, Carolina (102 game), Louisville (four games): Soto, who signed with the Reds out of high school, led the system with 30 home runs and hit .412 in his brief taste of Triple-A hitting by the end of the season. He batted .278 and ranked fifth among Reds prospects with 80 RBIs, with most of those coming at Double-A Carolina despite missing all of May with a broken wrist. The 22-year-old led the Southern League in homers and ranked third in the SL with a .575 slugging percentage.
“Another guy who had a great year, he’s really young still, just 22, but a guy who has been around in our system for a while and gets forgotten about a bit,” said Graupe.
Other worthy candidates include Donald Lutz, who hit .301 with 20 homers and 75 RBIs at Class A Dayton, and lefty-swinging Robert Maddox, an Ohio native who batted .282 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 63 games for short-season Billings.
“Lutz is a great athlete, another guy who is 22 and might be younger in terms of baseball years,” Graupe said. “He grew up in Germany, didn’t get the exposure and play as much as kids his age in that league, but both him and Maddox have premier power.”
To take a look at the entire All-Star list, courtesy of Baseball America, click here.
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