PHOENIX -- As top prospects Devin Mesoraco and Yonder Alonso keep raking at Triple-A Louisville, one overriding question continues to rumble louder and louder from Reds fans as the big league team struggled into the All-Star break. When? Both Mesoraco and Alonso, who participated in Sunday's XM All-Star Futures Game, have been among several Louisville players that have hit well enough to be considered for a promotion. But currently, there is no room for them on the big league roster. So while fans might be impatient, the players are playing it cool.
"They won the division last year with the same team. Why not try to do it again?" said Mesoraco, the Reds' first-round Draft pick in 2007. "I understand that. That's the way it is. It's wait your turn, but be ready when your number is called. That's my main focus." Mesoraco, who started for the U.S. Team on Sunday, finished the first half of his season batting .303 with nine home runs, 49 RBIs, a .378 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage. It's been a solid follow up to a 2010 season in which the 23-year-old was named the organization's Minor League Player of the Year for batting .302 with 26 homers at Louisville and Double-A Carolina.
Both during big league camp at Spring Training and last season, Mesoraco has also garnered praise for his work behind the plate. That remains a work in progress."He's learning so much still every day, especially about calling games," said Louisville manager Rick Sweet, a coach at the Futures Game for the U.S. Team. "That's not something he could really do at Double-A or [Class] A ball. I think in Triple-A, you start getting older pitchers like Dontrelle [Willis], [Edinson] Volquez or the rehab guys. He starts learning, 'OK, this is how you work hitters.' He's still learning and has a lot to do and he knows it." The Reds have a strong catching tandem in the big leagues with Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan. Barring an injury, the only chance Mesoraco has at a promotion this season is if there's a trade. Hanigan is already under contract for next season, but Hernandez is on a one-year deal and occasionally has come up in trade rumors. "Monie and Hany are great catchers," Mesoraco said. "Somehow, some way it will work out for me at some point. I'm not in any kind of a hurry." Alonso, the Reds' first-round pick in 2008, is batting .293 with 11 homers, 48 RBIs and .372 on-base percentage. A first baseman when he was picked, his big league path is blocked with Joey Votto in place. That meant a position change for the 24-year-old Alonso, who first tried left field last season. He's played more there this season and seems to be growing into the position. "He's done well in left field," Sweet said. "He catches everything he gets to. He doesn't have the foot speed, but his jumps and routes have been good and that's the best part of it." The Reds made Alonso a September callup last season, and he was limited to mostly pinch-hitting. Getting a more substantial callup in 2011 is a possibility since the club currently mixes and matches in left field with Jonny Gomes, Fred Lewis and Chris Heisey. With only a couple of weeks remaining until the Trade Deadline, Alonso could hear his name pop up in rumors as they often have in the past. Scouts are frequently at Louisville's games, and Alonso's bat will get him to the big leagues one way or another. "I can't really worry about what will happen to me at the Trade Deadline or if I get traded," said Alonso, who played first base for the World Team on Sunday. "What I can think about is doing my job. If I do my job, something will happen. Hopefully it's with Cincinnati, because I'd love to hit in that park, that's for sure." In the Futures Game, Mesoraco went 1-for-1 with a lined single to left field in the second inning and he was also hit by a pitch. Alonso went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and two walks and played the entire game. Another elite Reds prospect received his first promotion when hot-hitting shortstop Zack Cozart was called up this week. Both Mesoraco and Alonso were thrilled for their friend and teammate. "I watched the game last night, and seeing Cozart was kind of weird because I was playing with him earlier in the week," Mesoraco said. "He's on TV where we all want to be. It kind of makes you think you're almost there."