Catcher Austin Hedges. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
It was a big jump for Hedges, climbing 10 spots from 27 to 17, who continues to showcase his elite defensive skills, but makes the big jump in the rankings because of his development at the plate. In the preseason rankings, Baseball America noted that he was the best defensive catcher in the minors, but needed to improve with the bat. At the midseason point , they are more confident in his offensive development claiming, “as with many catchers, his bat is catching up to his glove.”
Hedges has a line of .245/.291/.374 in 73 games with Double-A San Antonio, but his five homers, 18 doubles, and 32 RBI indicate that he is hitting with a little pop. He is the 2nd best catcher according to the rankings, just three spots behind Blake Swihart of the Boston Red Sox, but Hedges’ defensive skills give him the highest ceiling of any catching prospect out there.
Wisler also jumped in the rankings, going from No. 44 to No. 41. After shutting down the Texas League going 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in six starts, the Padres decided to send Wisler up to Triple-A El Paso of the Pacific Coast League, one of the most hitter friendly leagues in all of professional baseball. From there he has struggled posting a 5.63 ERA, allowing 11 homers in 12 starts.
While the numbers are not pretty they do not reflect his development, and his change-up, according to Baseball America, is starting to get left handers out, which had been his biggest struggle in the minors to date. With the amount of injuries the Padres have faced this year, especially in the pitching staff; it would not be a surprise to see him called up in September or earlier. Wisler would be pleased not only to make his major league debut, but to also call the cavernous Petco Park his new home.
Notably left off the list is left handed starter Max Fried, who is regarded as one of the top lefty prospects in baseball, and the No. 3 prospect in the Padres system according to Baseball America, but has been dealing with forearm soreness this season. He was ranked 53rd in the preseason rankings, and has a chance to make the post-season top 50 now that he is back and healthy.
First baseman Jake Bauers (.354/.429/.523) of Single-A Fort Wayne made the All-Surprise team, also adding six homers to impressive line. San Diego’s seventh round pick in 2013 should be called up to Lake Elsinore sometime this season.