Normally, I associate Punxsutawney, Pa., with the movie "Groundhog Day" in which actor Bill Murray plays a TV weatherman who lives the same day over and over.
One individual who wouldn't mind repeating the same day as a professional baseball player is Punxsutawney native Devin Mesoraco.
The 23-year-old catcher was one of several individuals who represented the Northern Tour of the Reds Caravan for last Friday's stop inside Vienna's Grand Central Mall. The rookie is listed by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization and is being projected to share playing time with Ryan Hanigan.
"It's been a work in progress for about five years for me to make my way up to the big leagues," said the 15th overall draft pick of 2007. "I have to give a lot of credit to the Reds developmental staff in the minor leagues. They've been great the whole way up and I definitely wouldn't be where I am without the help from a bunch of guys there.
"There is not a whole left for me to prove down there at Triple-A. I am excited to hopefully start my long, prosperous big league career."
Mesoraco played at three different levels in the minor leagues in 2010 then spent a majority of last season at Triple-A Louisville where he batted .289 with 15 homers in 120 games.
He got a taste with the parent club in September, and hit .180 in 50 at bats.
During his brief stint in Cincinnati, Mesoraco learned how different pitchers attacked different hitters. Not only was that an adjustment, but so were the multitude of scouting reports.
"I didn't play as well as I would have liked (in Cincinnati), but I got some of the nerves out of there," Mesoraco said. "This year, there won't be any surprises. I'm going to know how everything runs up there and hopefully I will step right in and do the job."
Tom Browning, who is a member of the Reds Hall of Fame, also tagged along with the caravan and noticed how Mesoraco has developed into a 'man' from the first time he saw him as a "red-cheeked kid" in the minor leagues.
According to the Reds front office, Mesoraco also has a good head on his shoulders at such a young age.
"We try to build a team of culture," Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said. "Devin works hard, he plays the game right and that's kind of guy we want to be a Cincinnati Red. No question."
Mesoraco has even served the youth well. Another member of the caravan, 23-year-old outfielder Ryan LaMarre, will start 2012 in the Reds minor league system.
"I try not to be annoying and keep asking him questions baseball-related," LaMarre said. "One of the big things he helped me with is that it doesn't really matter where they put you because you have to get experience somewhere. It doesn't matter what level you are doing it at, so just go out and play the same game."
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org