Padres News: With Norris Injury, Team Should Give Extensive Look at Hedges

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Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

The San Diego Padres suffered three injuries on Tuesday night in their second game of a three game series against the Texas Rangers. Yonder Alonso came out with a lower back injury, Shawn Kelley suffered an arm injury and Derek Norris injured his arm and wrist on a collision at home plate with Adrian Beltre.

With Norris banged up, the team should take an extensive look at rookie catcher Austin Hedges. The defensive specialist has been rounding into form with the bat and should get to play on most days. His bat has been slow to progress, but with constant playing time he would have an opportunity to get at bats against Major League quality pitching.

Derek Norris is a huge loss for the team. It remains to be seen when he can return to game action behind the plate. Norris did pinch hit on Wednesday night. He provides the team with a vocal leader and has been very good behind the plate throwing out potential base runners. His 40 runners thrown out in 109 attempts is a 37% caught stealing percentage. That is well above the Major League average of 28%. Hedges has thrown out 12 of 36 runners for a 36% rate at throwing out runners. These two Padres catchers have thrown out a whopping 52 base runners.

So with Hedges playing everyday the Padres could get an opportunity to judge him in an effort to see if he will be the catcher of the future. The team has two valuable young cost controlled catchers and there will definitely be interest from other clubs this upcoming off-season. Should the team move either Hedges or Norris? I think the question is an obvious yes. Both have value and the team cannot afford to have one of them sit on the bench.

Some believe Norris should be at first base while Hedges catches, but Norris has value as a catcher not as a first basemen. If Norris were at first base he would be nothing more than an average Major Leaguer. From the first base position a team needs a player who performs offensively. Though Norris is an excellent hitting catcher, he would be below average at first base as far as offensive numbers go.

It makes sense that one of them goes this off-season. The team could address many issues by moving one of these young catchers. Both have a very high value right now, and that is always the best time to move a player.

There is no easy answer on who to keep. Norris is obviously the more polished of the two right now in his all around game, but Hedges has a very high ceiling. Hedges defensively could be a perennial gold glove winner, but again his bat is the key to him getting consistent playing time.

These next four-week will be huge in evaluating the potential of Austin Hedges with the stick. He has done better each and every day and needs to continue with that progress in order to be considered an everyday catcher. The front office and general manager A.J. Preller will be paying real close attention to his development. Lets see if Hedges can grow even more and reach his high potential.

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