Finding a catcher that is strong offensively, and also great with the glove, is something very rare in major league baseball.
There are just very few catchers that can hit the ball well consistently and also put up phenomenal numbers defensively.
Padres’ prospect, Austin Hedges, has the skills to be one of the best defensive catchers in the league, but throughout his major league career, he has lacked consistency in his offensive game. In his 64 major league games, Hedges has never really gotten going, batting a dismal .161 and striking out 45 times.
Defensively, Hedges has the tools to be the real deal. His quick feet allow him to release the ball very quickly from his stance, and he has a cannon for an arm. Some experts expect Hedges to have the fastest pop time in the league next season, something that will be huge for the Padres defensively as Hedges can essentially eliminate most opposing running games.
Coming off a very solid Triple-A season with El Paso, Hedges looks to transition his power into the major leagues. Being able to spread the ball across the field, Hedges can be a productive bat at the 6 or 7 spot in the lineup for the Padres. If his offensive game starts to come around, watch for Austin Hedges to have a monster season in 2017.
Carter Capps, RHP
Although Naylor is poised to become a successful player, reliever Carter Capps will end up being the best player from that Cashner trade, initially.
Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Capps will look to continue the success he had in 2015 with the Marlins. He posted a 1.16 ERA and struck out 58 batters in just 31 innings pitched. Capps is a massive man, standing at 6’5” and 220 pounds. Known for having one of the funkiest delivers in the league, Capps uses his weird throwing motion and big body frame to his advantage.
His average fastball is really 98 mph, but because he doesn’t really throw the ball from the bump, his perceived velocity is about 102 mph. Funky windups aside, I do think Capps is going to be the best reliever in a bullpen that may surprise many people in 2017.
He can come in the game and get the Padres out of tough situations, and possibly look to take on the closer role if Brandon Maurer doesn’t perform well. Now obviously, Capps will have to be monitored closely after coming off the surgery he just had. An innings restriction may be an option for the 26-year-old, as the team is looking for him to be the shutdown reliever for the future.
If everything comes out accordingly, I do believe Capps will have a very successful 2017 and finish the season as one of the best relievers in the game.
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