The San Diego Padres have decided to keep young catcher Austin Hedges on the 25 man roster. With that decision veteran catcher Tim Federowicz was activated from the 60-day D.L. and then designated for assignment. Federowicz had spent 20 days on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment and the Padres were forced to make a roster move.
It is no coincidence that Federowicz rehab stint ended the day after the trade deadline. Austin Hedges was surely coveted by some Major League G.M.’s while Preller negotiated with them. Hedges has a bright future and it seems the club is content with letting him learn on the job at the Major League level.
Federowicz had knee surgery in March after tearing his meniscus in his right knee. The catcher was obtained with Matt Kemp in December and was most likely going to be on the opening day roster before injuring his knee in spring training. Really bad luck for Federowicz as he was just the victim of a fluke injury.
So what will be the plan with Austin Hedges? He has truly too much talent to just be a backup catcher. His rocket arm and excellent receiving skills are things Major League teams dream of. He will be given an opportunity to play everyday, the question is if that opportunity will be with the Padres or someones else.
Current catcher Derek Norris has shown excellent leadership skills and has proven to be an absolute asset behind the plate. Norris at the age of 26 is very young and too has a bright future in this league. The Padres surely have a great problem on their hands. If Hedges can develop his bat, he could go down as one of the best catchers currently in the game. Many suspect that is just a matter of time.
Hedges is 10-60 (.167) this season for the Padres. He has also struck out 19 times and walked just twice. His plate discipline needs to improve if he expects to stick in the Major Leagues. Even though he brings excellent defense, the team cannot have him just give away at bats. Hedges has gunned down 10 of the 20 runners who have attempted to steal on him. Very impressive stat for the young man. He has produced a 0.7 WAR despite barely playing.
The question everyone asks is… Should a 22-year old who has struggled to swing the bat, by up in the Major Leagues playing sparingly? Of course him playing everyday in the Minors could benefit him, but the Padres feel the education he is getting at the Major League level is priceless. He could not get the quality of coaching he is currently getting. Hedges will need to improve and develop a better approach at the plate. If he can improve his offense, the Padres potentially have one of the best catchers in the league.