The Reds are planning to add several fresh faces Thursday when major league rosters expand, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon.
Chief among those September callups will be catching prospect Devin Mesoraco.
A 23-year-old from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (yes, home of the famous groundhog), Mesoraco has posted an impressive .289/.371/.484 batting line with 36 doubles, 15 home runs and 71 RBI in 120 games this season at Triple-A Louisville. He was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2007 MLB Amateur Draft and has steadily developed into one of the top young talents in the sport. Baseball America ranked him this winter as their 64th best prospect.
Manager Dusty Baker is likely to keep catchers Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan fairly active down the stretch, but Mesoraco will see a couple of random starts as the Reds try to get the youngster accustomed to life in the majors. Hanigan is signed through 2013, but Hernandez is set to become a free agent this winter.
Justin Verlander is approaching the tail end of a fantastic year with the Astros — arguably one of his best in the last decade — and on Saturday, he kicked off his last regular season start at Minute Maid Park with a strikeout, his 270th of the year. While that’s still a few shy of Max Scherzer‘s league-best mark of 290, it was a new personal record for Verlander, who had yet to beat the previous career record he set with 269 strikeouts in 2009.
Verlander’s moment arrived at the top of the first inning on a seven-pitch called strikeout against the Angels’ Kole Calhoun. Cole worked a 2-2 count, then fouled off a pair of 95-MPH fastballs before missing the seventh and final pitch at the top of the strike zone.
Jose Fernandez battled twice as long in the next at-bat, albeit with far more disastrous results. His 14-pitch duel against the Astros’ righty ended when he caught a fastball on his hand and was forced to come out of the game.
After expending a total of 27 pitches in the first inning, however, Verlander returned in the second to strike out the side, then logged another pair of strikeouts in the third. With six strikeouts through three innings, he boosted his season strikeout total to 275 — just a hair above fellow Houston righty Gerrit Cole (and all other AL pitchers), who previously led the team with 272 whiffs on the year.