The San Diego Padres have waited a long time for Austin Hedges to contribute offensively. Their patience may be paying off.
San Diego Padres catcher Austin Hedges must have gone through a gamut of emotions over the past few months. From hitting the disabled list to brutal droughts at the plate to his latest stretch of good fortune and home run power, he seems to be touching them all.
When Austin Hedges was placed on the disabled list on May 1st, due to tendonitis in his right elbow, he was slashing .173/.235/.293 with two home runs and just 10 runs batted in. Those two home runs were his only extra-base hits of the season.
Whether it was settling into the adjustments made to his swing or lingering elbow discomfort, his production throughout much of the season was extremely poor. One thing we do know is that now, there are more questions than ever about his long-term role with the Padres.
A.J.Preller went ahead and did his bit by nabbing the highly touted 22-year-old catching prospect Francisco Mejia from the Cleveland Indians. It was time for the real Austin Hedges to show up and boy, he seems to have let his bat do all the talking.
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In 71 July plate appearances, Hedges posted a stellar .308/.366/.538 slash line with a .905 OPS. He drove in eight runs, homered four times, and had recorded three doubles. He also drew five walks after drawing just seven over his first 98 plate appearances.
His offensive consistency has continued to flourish in August, as well. He has just eight at-bats over three games this month, however, Hedges has driven in five runs, homered twice, and drawn one walk. He’s looked much more like the Austin Hedges of spring training, who was earning high praise from players, fans, staff, and the media.
Of course, he has had runs like this before in his career, before falling back to reality. Maybe this is Hedges finally turning a corner as he prepares to turn 26. Maybe it’s just a spurt of good fortune that will run out. Or maybe, it’s Francisco Mejia looming in the background.
There is no doubt that Francisco Mejia has been knocking to get into the big leagues. It is only a matter of time before we see him in a Padre uniform. However, it will be interesting to see how Andy Green will use him. For now, though, Austin Hedges must continue what he is doing, hit dingers and have fun!