Austin Hedges is finally a big leaguer.
The Padres have called up their prized catching prospect from Triple-A El Paso. Hedges, who has struggled with the bat for the majority of his minor league career, was hitting .342 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 21 games with the Chihuahuas this season.
A huge improvement over last year with Double-A San Antonio where he managed to hit just .225 with six home runs and 44 RBIs in 457 plate appearances.
Since being drafted out of Juniper Serra High School in the second round of the 2011 draft, expectations have been high for Hedges. His catching skills have been “major league” ready for quite some time and, despite his previous struggles at the plate, Hedges is considered to be among the best catching prospects in baseball.
In February, Hedges was asked how he’s dealt with the pressure:
Including this last Spring, Hedges has been to three big league camps in his career. At the onset of Spring Training, manager Bud Black praised the catcher’s development, citing a noticeable difference in maturity.
“We feel good about Austin,” Black said. “I think this year, I noticed more maturity. This past Winter, December, January, coming down to Petco (Park) and working with (Mark) Kotsay and Riley Westman, our minor league catching coordinator, I see a little more maturity which is a good thing. He’s 22. That’s still young but he’s getting closer to the big leagues.”
–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)