Padres Birthday Spotlight: Austin Hedges

nicholaslee
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Happy 23rd birthday to Padres catcher Austin Hedges! The Padres’ 2nd round draft pick in 2011 has been up with the big league club since early May and has shown that he belongs.

His bat still has some improving to do, hitting just .183, two home runs with a 493 OPS. Hardly numbers that can replace Derek Norris‘ bat in the lineup (.247, 13 HRs, .699 OPS). But if he can get his bat going, he definitely can be the catcher of the future (seeing as Norris is playing a fine first base).

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Hedges has proven his worth with the glove and his arm. Since being called up on May 4th, he has the 5th best stolen base average against in the National League and 9th overall at .600. That is better than the likes of Mike Zunino, Brian McCann, Salvador Perez and our other Padre backstop Norris.

Hedges has proven he can handle the pitching staff and he has a been a big boost to the Padres depth. When Tim Federowicz went down during Spring Training, it was Hedges’ turn to step up and take on one of the most important backup roles in baseball.

Norris still has the better bat at the moment but when the Padres still want his bat in the lineup but want to give his legs a rest as they have done by playing him at first, they can put Hedges behind the plate without a worry.

The numbers show that Hedges bat can come around. In 21 games at Triple-A El Paso, he hit .324 with a .914 OPS. Once he gets a grasp on what it really takes to be an everyday catcher at the big league level, I believe his bat will come through. He doesn’t look to have Norrisaurus Rex-type power but you can maybe slot him for 8-10 home runs and a .250 average when he hits his stride.

Hedges has been valuable so far this season and here is to many birthdays with him in a Padres uniform!

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