Padres send down catching prospect Hedges

Club expects 22-year-old to reach Majors soon; Triple-A El Paso likely destination

Padres send down catching prospect Hedges

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres reassigned catcher Austin Hedges to Minor League camp on Tuesday, hopeful that the next time he comes to big league camp for Spring Training that he might stay for good.

No one came out and said as much Tuesday, but the implication was that Hedges, rated the team's No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, is at the point in his career where he's close to the big leagues.

"He's in a good spot and he made good strides," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He feels as though he is in a good spot to become a Major League player."

Hedges, in his third Major League camp, will likely continue to be challenged by the organization and will begin the regular season with Triple-A El Paso. He won't turn 23 until August.

Hedges hit .154 in 14 plate appearances this spring with two RBIs but has made strides offensively, Black said, in morning work with hitting coach Mark Kotsay and assistant hitting coach Alonzo Powell.

Hedges' two-run single

Hedges is regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the Minor Leagues. He struggled last season offensively in the Double-A Texas League, hitting .225.

"For me and for us [as an organization], the 150 pitches he receives every night is going to be more important than the four at-bats," Black said.

With Tuesday's roster move, the Padres have 44 players in big league camp.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.