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MWL notes: Hedges brings high energy
TinCaps catcher gets high marks, rare advice from skipper
08/02/2012 12:27 PM ET
Austin Hedges has eight homers and 13 steals for the TinCaps.
Austin Hedges has eight homers and 13 steals for the TinCaps. (Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)
It's not a conversation that a manager has with a catcher very often -- slow down on the basepaths.

Fort Wayne skipper Jose Valentin loves the passion that Padres' 2011 second-round pick Austin Hedges has for the game, but the 19-year-old's full-throttle approach also brings concerns.

"For a catcher, he likes to run," Valentin said. "Sometimes he gets crazy stealing the bases. I know he's young, but I tell him, 'You feel good now, but when you're 30, you're going to start feeling it. It's nice to play hard and aggressive, but remember, you're playing in a tough position. There's not too many guys who can squat down for nine innings and run crazy. You have to take care of your body, because you're going to need it later on.'"

Hedges is 13-for-19 in stolen base attempts and is batting .261 on the season, which includes a .227 mark in July. But he has no plans to dial back the intensity.

"I feel great," Hedges said. "I want to be out here every day. Obviously, the second half hasn't been quite as good as the first half, but I don't think it has anything to do with the longevity of the season. Once I started going through a bit of a slump, I started thinking too much and trying to do too much. But my body feels good, like the beginning of the year."

Although Hedges wasn't a first-round pick, he was regarded as the best defensive catcher in the 2011 Draft and signed for a $3 million bonus. The No. 7 prospect in the Padres system, he bristles at the knocks on his hitting in various scouting reports.

"I thought I had a good shot at going in the first round," Hedges said. "It was a little disappointing when my name didn't get called, but the next day when my name got called, it was huge. When everything came together, the Padres were the right fit. I'm 100 percent satisfied where I am right now.

"I definitely came into the season with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," he continued. "I thought I had something to prove to the organization or whoever thought I couldn't quite hit. I've always thought I've been a good hitter. I worked hard in the offseason to get to this point, and I've been pleased with the results so far."

Valentin said Hedges is a gifted athlete behind the plate, and one who has exceptional maturity.

"This is one of those kids who -- whoever in the organization got their eyes on him -- they have pretty good eyes," Valentin said. "There's a reason he's such a top prospect in this organization. He's a great catcher. For 19 years old, he has great instincts. He takes his job seriously. When he starts to get mature and learn more, he's going to be a great one. He's got some pop. When he goes to home plate, he gets good swings on it. He's like any young kid -- he gets aggressive sometimes." Valentin has been impressed with his defensive skills as well.

"He calls his own game," Valentin said. "Once in a while we help, but the pitchers have great trust in him. He's always asking, 'What's a good pitch in this situation?' He always wants to learn."

In brief

Triple play: Great Lakes pulled off the fourth triple play in team history Tuesday against Bowling Green in the bottom of the first inning. Cameron Seitzer hit a line drive to Loons shortstop Darnell Sweeney, who threw the ball to second baseman Pedro Guerrero to nail Jake Hager. Guerrero then threw to first baseman O'Koyea Dickson to erase Drew Vettleson and complete the 6-4-3 triple play. Each of the Loons' four triple plays have been on the road, including a 6-4-3 turn at Bowling Green in 2010.

Ending a skid: Quad Cities snapped a six-game losing streak -- its longest since 2009 -- with a 5-1 win over visiting Peoria on Tuesday. A steal of home by Matt Williams on a double steal in the first inning kick-started the victory for the River Bandits.

Streaking Stang: Wisconsin's Chadwin Stang has a 15-game hitting streak during which he is batting .338 (22-for-65). It's the longest run by a Timber Rattler since Cody Hawn's 17-game streak last season.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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