Padres open Day 2 with high-upside backstop

Padres open Day 2 with high-upside backstop

Padres open Day 2 with high-upside backstop
SAN DIEGO -- The first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft was well over by Tuesday, but the Padres may have gotten a first-round talent in second-round pick Austin Hedges.

Hedges, a catcher out of Junipero Serra High School in Southern California, is considered by many to be the top defensive catcher in the Draft, and potentially the top catcher overall.

Baseball America has Hedges rated as the 12th best position player prospect in the Draft.

"I think he's a player who has a chance to provide significant impact defensively," said Jason McLeod, vice president and assistant general manager of the Padres. "He's one of the better high school defensive catchers that I've seen."

But there are two big concerns with Hedges, which likely played a role in his being selected in the second round -- his hitting and what is believed to be a strong commitment to UCLA.

The latter is expected to make it difficult for the Padres to sign the 6-foot-1 backstop.

"It's a pretty strong commitment to UCLA," McLeod said. "He's a great student, and I think he made it known his commitment to go to college. We know we have our work cut out for us, but he's a special kid, a special talent. I don't know if you're going to find many guys who bring to that position the skill set that he does."

Hedges hit .366 as a senior at Junipero Serra with four home runs, 16 RBIs and 11 doubles. He has a good approach and natural power, he just hasn't hit consistently.

If Hedges can develop a knack at the plate, many think he has All-Star potential. Hedges has a plus throwing arm and outstanding receiving skills, all on top of a high-energy leadership style.

"It was an opportunity to get somebody that could significantly impact us," McLeod said. "We just felt he was too good to pass at that pick. He's a really good player."

Development is something that typically takes years, especially with high school prospects, but the Padres will need to get Hedges signed before they worry about that process.

"Our area scouts, that's what they do for 12 months," McLeod said. "They get to know these kids, know their passions, their desires. You don't take a kid just, like, naked thinking, 'OK we don't know what's going to happen.' You take the player with all information you have, and our information led us to believe that all these kids want to sign. Now it's our job to get them signed."

Padres Day 2 Draft picks:

Round 2, Austin Hedges, C, Junipero Serra (Calif.) HS: Many scouts think Hedges is the best defensive catcher in the draft. He has a good approach at the plate, but the results haven't been there. If Hedges' batting develops, he has All-Star potential, but it may be difficult for the Padres to work a deal with the UCLA commit.

Round 3, Matt Andriese, RHP, UC-Riverside: Andriese, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior, earned West Coast League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2010. This year for the Highlanders, Andriese went 4-5 in 14 starts, averaging close to seven innings per start. He holds nearly a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio (74-25), and pitched one complete game.

Round 4, Cody Hebner, RHP, Green River (Wash.) Community College: Hebner was a first-team All-NWAACC pitcher at Green River. The 6-foot righty has a fastball in the mid-90s and went 6-1 with a 1.62 ERA, striking out 88 batters in 79 innings. Hebner has a scholarship to Arizona State.

Round 5, Mark Pope, RHP, Georgia Tech: Pope took Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week honors twice in 2011. He went 11-4 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts. He tossed an ACC-best five complete games, including three shutouts. He also had the third-lowest ERA in the conference, behind Virginia's Danny Hultzen (second overall pick) and Will Roberts.

Round 6, Kyle Gaedele, RF, Valparaiso: Gaedele has good size at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, and had a good sophomore year at the plate. He led the Horizon League with 88 hits and 144 total bases. Gaedele drove in 63 runs and scored 61 while hitting seven homers, eight triples and 19 doubles. He was also a perfect 17-for-17 on stolen base attempts. Of interest, Eddie Gaedele, who became famous for playing in the Major Leagues at just 3-foot-7, is his great uncle.

Round 7, Matthew Wisler, RHP, Bryan (Ohio) HS: Wisler throws his fastball between 86-89 mph with a little sink, and he usually mixes it in with his curveball, which hits the guns at 73-75 mph. The 6-foot-3 right-hander isn't afraid to throw on the inside of the plate, and has verbally committed to Ohio State.

Round 8, Kevin Quackenbush, RHP, University of South Florida: Quackenbush is a 6-foot-3 closer for the Bulls. He completed 12 saves in 13 opportunities this season and in those 13 chances, opposing hitters hit .118 against him. He went 1-2 with a 0.80 ERA and earned second-team All-Big East honors.

Round 9, Justin Hancock, RHP, Lincoln Trail College (Ohio): Hancock is signed to play at Indiana State next season. The 6-foot-4 righty has a plus fastball, which he throws in the low 90s, but it touched 95 mph at a recent workout.

Round 10, Robert Kral, C, College of Charleston: Kral is a 5-foot-9 catcher who bats left and throws right. He hit .319 (68-for-213) in 61 games this year and recorded 29 extra-base hits -- 17 doubles, a triple and 11 home runs. He finished the year with 61 walks and an on-base percentage of .471.

Round 11, Casey McElroy, SS, Auburn: McElroy hit .372 (87-for-234) in the SEC in 2011 with 53 RBIs and nine home runs and 18 doubles. The shortstop had an on-base percentage of .429 and a fielding percentage of .941 with 14 errors in 58 games.

Round 12, Colin Rea, RHP, Indiana State: Rea, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-hander, went 8-4 in 15 starts with the Sycamores with a 3.68 ERA and made three bullpen appearances. Rea led ISU with 95 1/3 innings pitched and struck out 76 batters while allowing 69 hits. Opposing batters hit .204 against him.

Round 13, Marvin Orr, RF, McNeese State: A 6-foot-3, 200-pound right fielder, Orr was drafted in the 2010 MLB Draft in the 40th round, 1,207th overall by the Cincinnati Reds.

Round 14, Burch Smith, RHP, Oklahoma: In 16 starts this season, Smith went 10-4 with a 3.90 ERA for the Sooners. He struck out 90 batters in 87 2/3 innings pitched while holding opposing batters to a .257 average at the plate. He finished third in the Big 12 in wins and sixth in strikeouts. He was selected twice by the Cleveland Indians, in the 20th round (2010 Draft) and 49th round (2009 Draft).

Round 15, Greg Gonzalez, RHP, Fresno State: Gonzalez led the Bulldogs into the postseason in 2011 with an 11-1 record and an ERA of 1.79 in 16 starts. The 5-foot-11 right-hander struck out 124 batters in 105 1/3 innings against just 28 walks and 76 hits. Before Gonzalez went to Skyline Junior College, he played mostly a shortstop and a catcher.

Round 16, Jeremy Rodriguez, C, Cal State Bakersfield: Rodriguez, a 5-foot-8 switch-hitting catcher, hit .328 (65-for-198) in 53 games and tallied 11 doubles and three home runs. The Burbank, Calif., native batted in 30 RBIs and finished with a .985 fielding percentage.

Round 17, Matt Stites, RHP, Missouri: Stites entered Missouri with two seasons of experience at Jefferson College and a 16-5 record in that stint. But in his first season with the Tigers, Stites went 3-6 in 15 starts while allowing a 3.72 ERA. Stites allowed 90 hits in 92 innings while striking out 77 batters to 41 walks.

Round 18, Mike Gallic, LF, Marist College: A two-sport athlete in high school -- baseball and basketball -- Gallic hit .292 in his senior season at Marist College with six home runs and 43 RBIs. Of his 56 hits, 23 were for extra bases. Gallic's on-base percentage was .387.

Round 19, Jeremy Gigliotti, LHP, East Stroudsburg University: The first left-handed pitcher the Padres selected in the 2011 Draft, Gigliotti led Division II East Stroudsburg with a 1.04 ERA in his 12 appearances. He started 10 games, going 6-3, and pitched 69 innings. While he allowed 35 hits, he struck out 80 batters and walked just 14.

Round 20, Chris Haney, RHP, Dallas Baptist University: Haney made 31 bullpen appearances in 2011 and went 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA and 15 saves. Opponents hit .229 against him and Haney struck out 37 batters to his 11 walks. On top of that, Haney hit .357 (10-for-28) with a double and five RBIs.

Round 21, Zack Kometani, 1B, University of San Diego: Kometani started each of USD's 53 games. He hit .355 (77-for-217) with four home runs and 54 RBIs. Twenty-two of Kometani's 77 hits were doubles. The 6-foot, 190-pounder also played catcher.

Round 22, Matthew Colantonio, C, Brown University: The 6-foot Ivy League catcher led the Bears in hitting in 2011. A left-handed batter who throws right, Colantonio hit .301 (31-for-136) in 42 games with a home run and 13 RBIs. Colantonio took 20 walks on the year -- against 15 strikeouts -- for an on-base percentage of .424.

Round 23, Robert Eisenbach, LHP, Faulkner University: Eisenbach posted a 1.48 ERA and a 14-2 record in 17 games for the Eagles. He pitched more innings (115 1/3) than any other pitcher on the team, with the lowest ERA and the most wins.

Round 24, Erick Fedde, RHP, Las Vegas HS: In his senior year, Fedde went 4-4 with a 3.12 ERA. In the 49 1/3 innings he pitched, Fedde struck out 68 batters. He has committed to UNLV.

Round 25, Paul Karmas, 1B, St. Johns: Karmas has good size at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds and a superb fielding percentage of .994. Karmas hit .310 for the Red Storm with five homers and 40 RBIs and recorded a .406 on-base percentage. Of his 67 hits, 27 went for extra bases, including 21 doubles. Karmas was a three-time All-Big East selection.

Round 26, Roberto Suppa, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary HS (Ontario, Canada): Suppa, a lanky 6-foot-5 righty, throws his fastball in the high 80s. He also throws a slider and a changeup with deceptive arm speed.

Round 27, Arby Fields, OF, Cypress College: Fields hit .333 at Cyprus College with 13 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs. He stole eight bases in 11 attempts last season and his overall play earned him an offer from LSU.

Round 28, Rashaad Ingram, 2B, St. Augustine's College: Ingram was named to the 2011 NCAA Division II Baseball All-America Team. He hit .390 (67-for-172) in 54 games with three home runs and 31 RBIs and recorded an on-base percentage of .522. His biggest flaw is his .897 fielding percentage. Ingram committed 23 errors in 54 games.

Round 29, Vimael Machin, SS, Puerto Rico BB Academy HS: Machin played catcher at Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School. He's a left-handed batter but throws with his right. Machin has a nice, compact swing and solid speed around the bases.

Round 30, Justin Miller, CF, Southeastern Oklahoma State: Miller, a senior, led his team with a .433 batting average (87-for-201), 11 home runs and 47 RBIs. His on-base percentage was an impressive .551 and his slugging percentage was .721. In the field, he was consistent as well, recording a .992 fielding percentage with one error in 54 games.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 9 a.m. PT Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Mark Thompson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.