Austin Hedges, perhaps the most talked-about prospect in the San Diego Padres system since the likes of Chase Headley, Anthony Rizzo, and Jedd Gyorko, made his first career start on Wednesday. He got his first major league hit which was a ground ball single to center field. He also had a sacrifice fly, finishing with a productive 1-4 line to go along with 2 RBI as the Padres went on to defeat the Giants, 9-1.
Some around baseball have questioned the Padres’ move to bring up the 22-year-old catcher, pointing out he should continue to refine his skills in the minor leagues.
On the other hand, some have said Hedges is the best option at catcher right now for the Padres (which is probably true) and it is ideal to have the best 25-man roster. Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives of bringing Hedges up to the majors:
- He is the best catcher in the system to play the backup role to Derek Norris. Wil Nieves was under-performing both on the offensive and defensive side of the plate. He gives the Padres a viable backup behind Norris.
- Again, Derek Norris has made 25 starts out of the team’s first 30 games. A few scenarios that could happen with a capable catcher in Hedges: Hedges catches, while Derek Norris fills in as the designated hitter when playing in an American League stadium. Also, Bud Black hinted Derek Norris could play some first base down the line when Hedges starts at catcher.
- He’ll be working with the best coaches in the organization. Padres hitting coaches Mark Kotsay and Alonzo Powell will see him daily, which could benefit his approach at the plate.
- He won’t be getting daily at bats and will not start more than two games per week. As long as Derek Norris continues to swing a hot bat, he will not get the at bats he was getting at Triple-A El Paso. Black will have to find a way to get Hedges some playing time, without sacrificing the bat of Norris.
- Bringing him up too soon could limit his potential. Again, there have been scenarios in the past in which bringing up a guy to soon limited his numbers. Anthony Rizzo was the last hyped Padres prospect to come up at the age of 21 in 2011, but Rizzo did not produce, hitting just .141/.281/.242. He was then traded to Cubs, were he has become an impact player in Chicago. Hedges may not have the star power than Rizzo has, but he is in a similar scenario with pressure to be a productive major league player.
- He was off to a great start at Triple-A El Paso, hitting .324/.392/.521. Ideally the Padres probably did not want move him to the big leagues this early in the season. Tim Federowicz would likely take over backup duties once healthy, which will allow Hedges to continue to develop in the minors.
If Hedges produces in the major leagues, well, the club would obviously have some decisions to make. It will be something to keep note of as the season continues.
- The Padres announced placed pitcher Brandon Morrow on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation (retroactive to May 3rd). Morrow isn’t concerned and should be back by the end of the 15-day stint on the disabled list, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. Morrow, who has been the club’s most consistent pitcher, is 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA in 2015.
- Melvin Upton (left foot) continues to make progress and has resumed some baseball activities, writes Corey Brock. Once healthy, the team will need to find a way to play the outfielder, who is still owed $46.35 million.
- Josh Johnson (Tommy John surgery) had some triceps tightness as he continues to get closer to a minor league stint, tweets Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego. He was scheduled to throw either this last Wednesday or Thursday as he continues the process of rehabbing.
- Yonder Alonso (shoulder) injured his right shoulder in a defensive play against the Diamondbacks. Manager Bud Black says he “jammed” it and will have an MRI on it Friday, tweets Scott Miller of BleacherReport.com. Alonso is off to a hot start in 2015, hitting .333/.427/.437 overall.
- The Padres could move Ian Kennedy even if they are in contention for the postseason, writes Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. This would allow a pitcher such as Josh Johnson or Odrisamer Despaigne to slide into the rotation. Due to the inconsistent nature of how the rotation has pitched this season, this scenario only seems realistic if the team’s pitching improves.
- It would take a haul to move shortstop Jean Segura, whom Brewers general manager Doug Melvin views as “fairly close to untouchable“, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman views the Padres as a fit for the former All-Star, along with the Mets, Mariners, and Pirates.
- The Padres are going to reinstate pitcher Shawn Kelley from the disabled list and option Nick Vincent to Triple-A El Paso on Friday, tweets Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego. Kelley suffered a strain left calf injury that was considered minor. Kelley looks rebound from a bad start in 2015, as he has given up 6 runs in 5.1 innings. Faring not much better, Vincent has given up 5 runs in 7.1 innings so far this season.
- The club signed Cuban catcher Yenier Bello to a minor-league contract, tweets Robert Murray of BaseballEssential.com. Bello played between the Braves Rookie Team and High-A in 2014, hitting .286/.300/.429 in 28 plate appearances.