Healthy Hedges doubles his success

No. 4 Padres prospect notches two two-baggers, plates four

By Josh Jackson / Special to | June 10, 2013 10:29 PM ET

Austin Hedges is a native of Southern California, but he's still working on adopting a Californian mind-set at the plate.

"I'm trying to be more free and easy and relaxed up there," he said.'s No. 65 overall prospect appeared sufficiently relaxed Monday. Hedges doubled twice, stole a base and collected four RBIs in Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore's 9-5 win over Rancho Cucamonga.

Hedges was picked by the Padres out of a San Diego prep school in the second round of the 2011 Draft, and his family lives in nearby San Juan Capistrano. After hitting .279 in the Class A Midwest League his first full season, the 20-year-old catcher is happy to have landed in the Cal League.

"It's been awesome," he said. "My family has been out to almost every game, and I get to go home on off days."

Hedges' two-hit game was his third since returning to the team after missing most of May with a bruised bone in his hand he suffered after getting hit with a pitch. He was batting .229 when he went on the disabled list, and after his performance Monday his average stands at .271.

"Ever since I came back, I'm trying to get more consistent," he said. "I tend to press too hard, so I'm trying to put in less effort during my at-bats."

The Quakes put up two runs in the top of the first, but in the bottom half Hedges made the score moot against Rancho Cucamonga starter James Campbell. With the bases loaded, he smacked a two-run double to left field. Robert Kral, who bats ahead of Hedges, scored on a groundout by next batter Travis Whitmore.

"After giving up two runs in the first, it was great to clear the bases," Hedges said. "That got the momentum turned around for us."

The next inning, Hedges stepped to the dish with Kral on first and Padres' No. 11 prospect Jace Peterson on second. After a six-pitch at-bat, he again ripped a double to left. It plated both runners.

"[Campbell] started me off with two off-speed pitches," Hedges said. "I was able to battle and get the pitch I was looking for."

With Whitmore batting, Hedges stole third. After working a two-out walk in the sixth, he tried for another stolen base but was thrown out.

Peterson tripled and also reached base three times, and San Diego's No. 20 prospect Travis Jankowksi doubled, singled, stole a base and scored a run.

Jon Garcia homered and doubled and Sweeney scored twice for the Quakes, .

Moving forward, Hedges hopes to stay loose and mentally flexible.

"I think for me it's just about making adjustments day by day and trying to get better at something every day," he said. "Whether it's my approach during the game or getting ready before, I'm working on making adjustments as I go."

The Padres prospect's hometown is halfway between San Diego and Los Angeles, and he made a confession some of his club's fans might not want to hear.

"I actually grew up a Dodgers fan," he said.

But now?

"I'm just glad to be part of this organization," he said.

Josh Jackson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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