Down On The Farm: Who Is Austin Hedges?
By Dave Chalk
The Padres only had one offensive prospect in Baseball America’s pre-season top 50 prospects. That one player was catcher Austin Hedges. Hedges burst on to the scene when he was selected to the 2013 Futures Game at Citi Field in New York. He showcased his powerful arm and defense, while throwing out two base runners in the first three innings. Hedges’ defense has always been his calling card since being drafted in the second rouns of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Hedges will need to continue to develop his bat before he will be ready to face major league pitchers.
Hedges has spent the entire season at Double-A San Antonio. Hedges was named to the Texas League All-Star Team where he owns the slash line of .243/. 288/.361. So when will we see Hedges in the big leagues? That is the golden question!
Hedges is only in his fourth minor league season and being drafted out of high school, and he has a few years of seasoning to go through, but will that seasoning happen in the minors or being thrown into the fire in the Big Show? With Nick Hundley already traded to the Orioles earlier this season, and both catchers on the 25-man roster having a horrible season at the plate, Hedges could see the majors on a regular basis as soon as next year. These big questions will have to wait until the Padres hire a new general manager, who will set the course for the coming years.
My guess is that the Padres will call up Hedges when the rosters expand in September, so that he can get his major league debut and the associated butterflies out of the way. That way Hedges can come to Spring Training in 2015 and compete for the starting catcher position, and if current Padres’ catcher Yasmani Grandal does not improve his offense during the second half of the season. I can see the front office turning to Hedges and keeping Rene Rivera as his experienced back-up.
Hedges’ defense is ready for the majors, and with time his bat will follow. Hedges will be on the Friar’s opening day roster next year, catching the first pitch from Max Scherzer. Well a guy can wish can’t he?
Keep the Faith.