Hedges with Lake Elsinore Storm 2013
|San Diego Padres – No. 18|
|Born: August 18, 1992|
San Juan Capistrano, California
|May 4, 2015, for the San Diego Padres|
|MLB statistics |
(through 2018 season)
|Runs batted in||104|
Hedges was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the second round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft out of JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California. He had committed to UCLA, but signed with the Padres for $3 million.
Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America ranked Hedges as the Padres fifth best prospect. Playing for the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Midwest League, Hedges hit .279/.334/.451 with 10 home runs in 96 games. Scouts considered Hedges to be a stand-out defender who had surprised them with his batting at Class-A.
In 2013, MLB.com ranked Hedges the fourth best catching prospect in the minors. He started the year with the Class-A Advanced Lake Elsinore Storm where he hit .270 with four home runs in 66 games. He was promoted to the Double-A San Antonio Missions in August where he hit .224 in 20 games. He was also named to the All-Star Futures Game in 2013.
Hedges received a non-roster invitation to the big league spring training camp for the second time in 2014. He was ranked #27 on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list coming into the season. He spent the season with San Antonio, where he hit .225 with 6 home runs over 113 games while throwing out 38% of opposing base runners.
In 2015, Hedges joined the El Paso Chihuahuas of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. The Padres promoted Hedges to the major leagues on May 4, bringing him up as a back-up to Derek Norris after designating Wil Nieves for assignment. Hedges had hit .324 with 2 home runs in 79 at-bats for the Chihuahuas. On May 6, Hedges notched his first Major League hit, an RBI single in the third inning of a game against the San Francisco Giants. He recorded 137 plate appearances during the 2015 season, hitting for a .168 batting average. In the offseason, Hedges played for the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League.
Hedges was invited to spring training in 2016, but began the season in El Paso. In April, he suffered a fractured hamate bone in his left hand which required surgery. He returned to the Triple-A club six weeks after the operation and then went on a run where he hit 14 home runs and posted a .395 batting average over a 30-game stretch. He finished the season with a .326/.353/.597 batting line and 21 home runs in his 82 games with El Paso, which was considered a breakout season for a player regarded as a defense-first catcher. Hedges joined the Padres for 8 games in late September after the Triple-A national championship game.
Hedges moved into a role as the Padres regular catcher in 2017, catching 115 games and backed up by Luis Torrens and Héctor Sánchez. Hedges missed two weeks in late July with a mild concussion after taking a foul ball off his mask. On June 19, Hedges was behind the plate when Anthony Rizzo collided with him on a controversial play and knocked him out of the game. He missed two more games but avoided the disabled list. Hedges finished the season with a .214/.262/.398 batting line with 18 home runs in 387 at-bats. Behind the plate, he had a 37% caught stealing rate. His fielding runs above average (26.7) led all catchers, according to Baseball Prospectus, and he ranked second in framing runs.
In 2018, he began the season as the starting catcher for the Padres for a third consecutive season. He was placed on the disabled list on May 1 with right elbow tendinitis. He resumed baseball activities on June 11. He ended the season with a batting line of .231/282/429 with 14 home runs and 37 RBIs.
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