Always lauded for his ability behind the plate as a defense-first catching prospect, Austin Hedges had a breakout at Triple-A El Paso in 2016 with a surge of power (21 homers) and a strong .326/.353/.597 line before he was promoted to San Diego in September. With Derek Norris in tow, the Padres were hesitant to leave Hedges on the Opening Day roster as a backup, and the decision to give him regular playing time at Triple-A appears to have paid off. Hedges has benefited from his time in the Pacific Coast League by playing half of his games at El Paso over the past two seasons, but his career .326/.361/.583 line at Triple-A suggests that he has nothing left to prove in the minors. The Padres certainly must have thought so, as they dealt Derek Norris to the Nationals to clear the path for Hedges to become the team's workhorse backstop. His developing power and low strikeout rate (career 16.6 percent in the minors) make him a useful cheap option in two-catcher formats.
Hedges went 1-for-3 with a solo home run and two RBI in Monday's 7-6 loss to the Diamondbacks. After a terrible start, Hedges now has six home runs in his last eight games and has his average up to .183. The 24-year-old was always a defense-first backstop, but he made considerable strides with the bat in the minors last season, giving the Padres and fantasy owners hope that he could contribute at the plate in his first full season as the starter. The homer binge won't last, but it's a reminder that he can provide offensively for stretches in two-catcher and deep NL-only leagues.
Hedges is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Marlins. The red-hot Hedges, who has hit a home run in three consecutive games, will head to the bench Sunday and be replaced by Luis Torrens. The young catcher should be back in the lineup Monday against the Diamondbacks.
Hedges went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in Thursday's victory over the Diamondbacks. The young catcher got off to a slow start to the season, but he's been able to turn things around over the past week. In his past six starts, Hedges has batted .350 while launching three home runs, raising his batting average from .037 up to .170.
Hedges had his strongest offensive performance of the season Monday, going 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and two RBI in a 5-4 loss to the Braves. The homer was Hedges' second in as many games, and he now has six hits over his last four. After an abysmal 0-for-23 start to the season, the 24-year-old catcher is starting to deliver on some of the offensive promise he showed at the Triple-A level last season. His slash line is still an unappealing .158/.238/.368, but Hedges could be worth a look in deeper formats, especially considering how fickle the catcher position can be in fantasy.
Hedges is out of the lineup Sunday against the Braves. Hedges has caught four straight games for San Diego but will take a seat in favor of Hector Sanchez for the afternoon matchup.
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