Blake Swihart officially joined the Red Sox yesterday and another catching prospect could be making his debut soon. San Diego has promoted top catching prospect Austin Hedges, according to U-T San Diego's Dennis Lin, and he is expected to join the club prior to Monday's contest against San Francisco.
Hedges, 22, has been known for his plus defense but has had success at the plate in 20 games with Triple-A to this point in 2015, posting a .343/.413/.552 batting line to complement two home runs and 15 RBIs. He batted .225/.268/.321 in 113 games in Double-A last season, and Padres Manager Bud Black told MLB.com's Corey Brock Hedges is "not the same player he was a year ago."
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After drafting him in the second round in 2011, the Padres were hoping he would continue to develop offensively. He was reassigned to minor league camp late in spring training, and while many were confident in his ability to handle a major league pitching staff, it was his bat that led San Diego to have him open the season with Triple-A.
Hedges threw out 38 percent of basestealers in Double-A last season, however a notable drop in his batting average resulted in the Padres having him spend two seasons with Double-A San Antonio. He batted .279 with Single-A in 2012 before posting a .225 average last season.
Baseball America ranked Hedges as the 27th best prospect in all of baseball before the start of 2014, but Hedges did not make the top 100 heading into 2015. According to U-T San Diego's Jeff Sanders, Padres General Manager A.J. Preller wanted to make sure Hedges was not promoted before he was ready, and the fact that he got himself into better shape heading into the season proved he had "the mindset we wanted him to have."
Padres backstop Derek Norris is thriving, but Hedges could be used as a DH in the club's upcoming series with Seattle before the organization makes a decision with regard to his status. Wil Nieves is currently the Padres' backup catcher.