Navarro Replaced Mesoraco as Reds Backup Catcher
Before the season Cincinnati signed Dioner Navarro as an insurance policy for top prospect Devin Mesoraco who was going to spend his rookie season with the Reds. Navarro since has led Louisville in most important offensive stats and is now the parent team's backup catcher while Mesoraco goes back to tune up his swing over the final two weeks of the International League season.
There’s been a recent changing of the shin guards on the Cincinnati roster. Devin Mesoraco began serving a three game suspension Tuesday for making contact with a home plate umpire. Preferring not to go through that time without a backup catcher the Reds recalled veteran Dioner Navarro from Louisville. Logan Ondrusek, who had a couple of options left, made an unexpected trip to Louisville to make room for him where he will spend at least ten days. Navarro will remain with the Reds because upon completion of the suspension they optioned Mesoraco to Louisville. J.J. Hoover took Ondrusek’s place in the bullpen and threw two scoreless innings in last night’s loss at Philadelphia.
This makes the ninth season that the 28 year-old Navarro has seen action in the major leagues. He got regular duty for three seasons in Tampa and participated in the 2008 All Star game en route to ending that season with a .295 average and ended the year by going 6-13 in the World Series against the Phillies. His productivity dropped off after that and in both of his last two seasons, one with the Rays and last year with the Dodgers, he hit under .200. That left him without a big-league job so he signed a minor league deal with the Reds in January. He went 1-9 in a brief stint with the Reds earlier this month while Mesoraco was on the DL from a concussion.
Since Navarro was assigned to Louisville one thing he has done is hit. This season he led the Bats in batting average (.319), on-base percentage (.382), and slugging percentage (.452). He was originally signed as an insurance policy because Mesoraco was the top rated prospect in the Cincinnati system and a preseason candidate for Rookie of the Year. He started the season catching on days when Homer Bailey and Mike Leake took their turns in the rotation and has not been able to take any more playing time from Ryan Hanigan who is working on another solid season at the plate (.292 AVG/.384 OB%). Now after hitting .210 in 52 games Mesoraco will getting at-bats more regularly over the final two weeks of the International League season.
Reds manager Dusty Baker did not rule out Mesoraco making the postseason roster should the Reds manage to hang on to their current position on top of the NL Central. "We're hoping that's what the final outcome is," Baker said. "It depends on him and depends on the progress that he makes. We really want to stress that it has nothing to do with his suspension. This has kind of been dabbled about for a while. We could see his confidence has gone down some. We want to get his confidence back, offensively, defensively, throwing and all kind of ways."
Ondrusek started the season off without allowing a run until mid-May. His ERA is now at mid-three over 46 innings. He’d been scored upon in five of his last seven outings. Meanwhile Hoover had been lights-out at Louisville since Bill Bray returned from an early season injury and took his spot in the Reds bullpen. The former Brave prospect kept a 1.22 ERA with the Bats and the only save opportunity he’s blown came from an unearned run. He has a K/BB ratio of 55/12 in 37 AAA innings.
Baker commented on losing Ondrusek temporarily: "We only had a couple of guys with options that could be sent down. Anybody else would have to go through waivers and we could end up losing them. Ondrusek pitched two innings Monday night, so he really couldn't help us for a couple of days." He also added, “It wasn’t an easy decision and it wasn’t easy telling him.”
Of course there will be room for all parties involved after roster expansion at the end of this month. A third catcher and bullpen depth figure to be desirable as the long season winds down to an end. Both Hoover and Ondrusek will be assets in the pen which has been surprisingly deep considering the toll that injury took upon it at the beginning of the season. The Reds have leaned heavily on it all season and there will be no shortage of arms there for their run down the home stretch.
Other News from the Farm:
Louisville lost 6-1 at Indianapolis when the Indians blew the game open with three in the seventh. Willie Harris and Chris Valaika had two hits each for the Bats. Todd Redmond took the loss in a nice start when he allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits without a walk in six innings while striking out six. Bill Bray allowed three runs (two earned) in one inning and his ERA is now a flat nine in AAA. Ondrusek was touched up for a run in one inning.
Pensacola won the final game of a five game home set against division leading Montgomery 6-0. Josh Fellhauer had three hits while Tucker Barnhart and Miguel Rojas added two each. Daniel Corcino maintained his his case that he’s ready for a promotion this season by tossing five shutout innings with two hits and three walks and five strikeouts. The win raises his record to 8-7 with a 3.06 ERA.
Billy Hamilton Theft Watch:
It was an odd game where Hamilton reached base three times and did not record a steal. He walked in the third and was caught attempting to swipe second. He singled in the fifth and was caught again. He walked in the eighth and did not have an open base in front of him. He’s now stolen 148 bags out of 180 attempts in 123 games.
Bakersfield hung seven on the board in the sixth inning in a 10-4 home win over Inland Empire. Five Blaze players contributed two hits: Ryan Wright, Travis Mattair, Steve Selsky, Juan Duran, and Dominic D’Anna. D’Anna and Devin Lohman both homered in the rally. Stalin Gerson got the win from a quality start where he allowed two runs on five hits without a walk in seven innings while striking out five.
Dayton lost a 1-0 lead in the ninth and lost 2-1 at Bowling Green in thirteen innings. Sean Buckley had two hits and drove in the Dragons’ only run. Yorman Rodriguez added two more hits and crossed the plate once. James Allen got no decision from six shutout innings allowing four hits. Dan Jenson allowed the game–winner after pitching two scoreless innings and took his tenth loss.
Billings lost a lead when the allowed three in the seventh and then scored one each in the eighth and ninth for a 5-4 win at Idaho Falls. Beau Amaral, Carlos Sanchez, Jeff Gelalich, and Julio Morillo had two hits each for the Mustangs and Robert Ramirez added a solo home run. Dan Langfield got the start and allowed two hits in three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Matt Wiley went 2+ scoreless innings and allowed four hits while picking up the win and keeping his ERA at zero.
The AZL Reds scored two in the sixth and added three more in the seventh in a 7-2 win at the AZL Padres. Tanner Rahier, Adam Matthews and Jhimmy Lopez had two hits each for the Reds. Michael Salter started the game with three shutout innings, yielding only one hit without a walk and striking out four. Luke Moran relieved him for the win and allowed both runs in two innings.
The DSL Reds took a 5-0 lead into the fourth inning and pounded out eight more in a 14-1 win at the DSL Cubs1. Miguel Mendez, Rusbel Farinez, and Aristides Aquino had two hits each for the Reds who drew nine walks. Jose Rosario cruised through six innings allowing an unearned run and two hits without a walk while striking out seven.