San Diego Padres prospect Austin Hedges is having a great season at Triple-A El Paso. In 35 games this season, Hedges has batted .389 with 14 homeruns and 43 RBIs. You have to wonder if he will be called up anytime soon.
“I have high expectations for myself,” Hedges said last month. “I’m not necessarily trying to hit home runs. I’m just trying to drive the ball. I expect to do good things with the bat and it’s been nice to see.” (MILB.COM)
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Hedges made his major league debut last season on May 4, 2015. In 56 games he struggled, batting .168 with three homeruns and 11 RBI, but maybe this time around will be much different. Every player needs time to develop in the minors. Maybe Hedges has paid his dues and could pan out as a full-time major leaguer.
He feels he benefited from his short major league stint last season despite his struggles.
“The biggest thing I took from it was having a consistent routine each day,” Hedges said. “Show up at the field, prepare myself both physically and mentally. I learned a lot by watching and listening from other teammates, and I’m trying to apply that to my game.” (MILB.COM)
At the moment it would be tough for the 23-year old catcher to get in the lineup with Derek Norris currently starting. Norris though has struggled hitting only .207 with 11 homeruns and 32 RBI. Finding a trade partner for him could be difficult, but they could possibly release him so Hedges gets his second chance in the majors.
The Padres though made the right choice by starting Hedges this season in the minors, which has given him plenty of at-bats. The only unfortunate thing was that he missed a little over a month after having surgery to remove his hamate bone.
Hedges was drafted by the Padres in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Jserra Catholic High School (San Juan Capistrano, CA). He had committed to UCLA, but signed with the Padres for $3 million.
Even if he is not called up this month, he likely will be by September.