The Padres season is all but lost at this point. The once high expectations from the Spring have finally been snuffed out, as the team is currently on a six game losing streak, losing a series to the Brewers and then getting swept at home by the Phillies, two of the few teams that have worse records than them.
While the concept of missing out on the playoffs isn't a foreign concept to Padres fans, the sting we feel this year is mostly due to the surge of hope we had after a frenzied offseason in which the Padres went from having a motley crew of no-namers to a roster full of All-Stars. It was so exciting.
In terms of playoffs, all the only thing to look forward to now is next year. However, there are a few players worth watching in the meantime. As we get closer to September, we will probably see some of the kids on the farm get more playing time to prove what they can do. One name that has actually been with the Padres for a few months now is Austin Hedges.
For those not in the know, Hedges is what many consider an already elite defensive major league catcher, and was brought in primarily to serve as a backup to starting catcher Derek Norris. Norris began the year on a tear, and would've been my pick to represent the Padres in the All-Star Game. However, he's been playing more than he ever has in his career, and his production has dropped off significantly. At this point, I'd like to see more of Hedges, since his defensive skills are superior (though Norris has thrown out a career high 33 base runners - previous high was 12, though he's allowed 63 stolen bases, also a career high, good for a 34% caught stealing rate, which is… another career high), and he really needs a chance to get regular at bats to improve his abysmal .176/.216/.279 slash line.
Blah blah blah, I'm a fan of Hedges, and in a season that's already lost, I'm in favor of developing players with a lot of potential as opposed to playing guys that we already know about. Capiche?
Anyways, here are all of my Austin Hedges cards, a whopping seven of them.
I started looking through my Non-Padres binder first, because that's where I have also stashed a few pages of minor league cards. I have the San Antonio Missions team set from last year, which is where I found this card. The Missions have totally redesigned their logo/uniforms this year, so I guess it's cool to have the card set from the last of the black and white days.
Moving past a few team sets, I find a few singles from other Topps minor league releases. I used to try to get team sets of these, but so many players never make it or get traded before they become Padres, that I just decided to chase the few cards of guys that I knew. Hedges has been hyped since he was drafted in 2011, so he made appearances in the 2013 and 2014 Pro Debut sets. Really dig both of these cards, as I was a big fan of the 2013 design, and I actually got to watch Hedges in San Antonio in 2014.
Here's a pair of Heritage Minors Hedges cards, from 2012 and 2014 (don't have the 2013 card, as it's a short print, and I haven't wanted to pony up the extra $ that those cost). Also dig both of these cards. When Heritage Minors is done right, it looks really good. Never noticed until now that the '12 card has a black and white background.
Here's the last two, pulled from the Miscellaneous Padres binder. The card that looks like it's melting is a "Fire" insert from some Bowman set (I can't keep track of them) and is a die-cut, and the other one is a mini refractor from another Bowman set (like I said, every set looks the same to me). I like these enough, obvious photoshops aside.
Anyways, I guess lots of people have a favorite prospect, and Hedges is mine (though, I guess he's been in the majors long enough to not be considered a prospect now). Now that he's up, there's a few other guys who I'm interested in, though the Padres farm system is pretty barren. Colin Rea, who ended last season in single-A Lake Elsinore, will make his MLB debut tomorrow for the Padres, and chances are we may see outfielders Rymer Liriano and Travis Jankowski up before the end of the year. The best prospect in the system is Hunter Renfroe, who is raking in AA San Antonio, and he might get a look in Spring Training to make the team, depending on the outfield situation.