The Padres Future Is Now: Get To Know Austin Hedges

Catching prospect to make MLB debut this week

If there's one thing the Padres have proven in the last six months, it's that they are motivated to win RIGHT NOW. General Manager A.J. Preller traded away a large chunk of the franchise's minor league system to get guys like Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel, but he was able to keep two of the team's top three prospects.

One of them is about to make his MLB debut a bit sooner than most people expected.

Catcher Austin Hedges is being called up for Monday night's game in San Francisco. Hedges has long been regarded as one of the best defensive catching prospects in baseball, and now his bat may be catching up to his glove.

Hedges is hitting .324 with a pair of home runs and 15 RBI in 21 games at Triple-A El Paso, by far the best offensive numbers of his 4-plus year professional career. The Padres have All-Star Derek Norris behind the plate, and the way he's playing (.337 average with 11 doubles) he's not going anywhere.

But, Norris has started 22 of the team's 26 games and backup Wil Nieves only has one hit (although it was a big one, a grand slam to help beat the Giants) while allowing a league-high 3 passed balls in only four starts.

On Monday the Padres released Nieves to make room for their prized rookie.

As a 22-year-old, Hedges has an advanced understanding of the game. I got to spend some time with him in Spring Training this year and was immediately impressed with his demeanor, attitude, and willingness to learn from the veterans around him.

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