Despite not being a flashy hitter, Austin Hedges had become one of the top catching prospects in baseball because of his tremendous defense ability. He was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft and immediately started raking. Hedges has made it all the way to AA ball despite just recently turning 21, and has scouts as well as fans just salivating over his major league ceiling.
He’s shown a pull heavy approach at the plate, mostly put together because of his early hip clearing. He still shows the ability to go the other way, but he’s had the most success pulling to either left or going up the middle to center.
Even though he provides good offense, what really makes Austin Hedges special is his defense. He’s regarded among the best, if not the best, framer in the minors. The Padres have shown an organizational shift towards good framing catchers, with guys like Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera and even Nick Hundley before he was shipped off. Hedges is no different, and his defense behind the plate is plus-plus, and could be a generational talent there.
He’s not just an exceptional framer and a bringer of justice to potential base stealers, but his work with his pitchers is becoming elite as well. As Matt Wisler told Baseball America about him:
“He’s really just a smart player. He knows what hitters are looking for and he knows us (pitchers). You are always in the flow of the game with him.”
Wisler is in Triple A and nearing a promotion to San Diego, just like Hedges. His kind words are key to understanding just how important he will be to the Padres’ pitching staff.
For Hedges to really reach his ceiling, he needs to make sure he stays balanced at the plate and continues to hone his defensive skills. He was regarded so highly out of the draft that scouts said he could catch in the majors immediately, even though he just graduated high school. He’s a premium talent and will be a mainstay in the Padres organization for a long time. Austin Hedges is a prospect to get excited about, so be on the lookout for his impending debut.