Austin Hedges knows that when you're behind the plate every night, there are sacrifices to be made to win games. On Friday afternoon, it was his bat that took one for the team.
The Padres' No. 2 prospect went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, including a go-ahead single in the eighth inning, as the Peoria Javelinas held off the Salt River Rafters, 5-3, in the Arizona Fall League.
That single, fighting off a tough cutter, cost Hedges some lumber, although he'll gladly trade a broken bat for a win.
"I got a little info from some of guys in dugout that said [Marcus Stroman] had a good cutter," Hedges said of the Blue Jays' 2012 first-round pick, "I broke my bat, but I put a good enough a swing on it for it to drop in."
Hedges, MLB.com's third-ranked catching prospect, also doubled home Chris Taylor (Mariners) in the first before plating Orlando Calixte (Royals) to snap a 3-3 tie with one out in the eighth. Behind the plate, the Futures Game All-Star picked Kenny Wilson (Blue Jays) off first base in the first, then gunned down Tim Wheeler (Rockies) attempting to steal second in the sixth.
"It's always huge," Hedges said. "It changes the momentum of the game. Both times today, it changed the inning pretty drastically. It's always fun to throw guys out."
Hedges got a $3 million signing bonus after the Padres selected him in the second round of the 2011 Draft. This season, the 21-year-old batted .260 with 30 extra-base hits and 38 RBIs across two levels, but it's his defense that stands out.
Hedges said he takes chances on throwing behind runners at first, a calculated gamble that requires a strong, accurate arm.
"There's always a right time and a wrong time," he said. "If a guy is giving me an opportunity, I like to. But it depends on the situation."
Hedges also had to contend with a rocky start from Mariners prospect Brandon Maurer, who allowed two runs on three hits and a pair of walks over 1 2/3 innings.
"He had good stuff today, but I don't think he was his usual self," Hedges said. "His slider is outstanding and his fastball is electric. There were a lot of positives, I thought. I know he's probably disappointed in his outing, but I was very impressed with his stuff."
Salt River responded to Hedges' RBI double in the first when Wheeler singled home fellow Rockies prospect Cristhian Adams with one outin the bottom of the inning. The Rafters kept it going in the second on Adames' two-run single, but Peoria tied it in the fourth on a two-run homer by Astros prospect Jonathan Meyer. Delino DeShields, Houston's seventh-ranked prospect, provided insurance with an RBI single in the ninth.
Astros right-hander Jonas Dufek (1-1) ended up with the win after striking out the side in the eighth before Ken Giles (Phillies) did the same in the ninth for his first AFL save.
That -- minus one broken bat -- added up to a pretty nice start to the Columbus Day weekend for Hedges and his new teammates.
"Having a two-day weekend will be nice, it's good to get a couple of wins going into next week," he said. "We're out here to get better, but we want to win. It's more fun. This will be a good weekend to get rest and get back to it next week."