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Path Cleared For Austin Hedges

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Austin Hedges (photo by Bill MItchell) Austin Hedges (photo by Bill Mitchell)[/caption]

SAN DIEGO—Two questions hovered over the Padres farm system going into this offseason.

Would general manager A.J. Preller get back to making trades after he returned from the 30-day suspension in October stemming from the organization’s trade-related actions this past summer?

And, would Preller finally trade the team’s major league catcher, Derek Norris, so touted youngster Austin Hedges could take over?

The answer to each question arrived on Dec. 3, when Preller dealt Norris to the Nationals. In return, the Padres got a pitching prospect, Pedro Avila, 19, who has good pitchability and an intriguing arsenal.

"We’re excited for a couple reasons,” Preller told the team’s website. "We’re getting another quality pitching prospect in Pedro—I think our scouting group is fired up about that. And the other thing that we’ve talked about is that we have a young catcher inAustin Hedges, who has put himself in position to be our everyday guy.”

Hedges, 24, made his major league debut early in the 2015 season but appeared in just 56 games. He spent most of last season in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, batting .326 with a career-high 24 home runs for El Paso.

He joined the Padres after the PCL playoffs and appeared in eight games, batting .125 with seven strikeouts.

The departure of Norris, 27, who hit just .186 with 14 home runs last season, sets up a catching tandem of Hedges and backup Christian Bethancourt, along with Rule 5 draft pickup Luis Torrens.

Preller is back in business, having worked the deal with the Nats’ Mike Rizzo. The two had collaborated with Tampa Bay’s front office on a three-team trade two offseasons ago that brought the Padres Wil Myers for Trea Turner, Joe Ross and Jake Bauers.


The Padres shut righthander Yimmi Brasoban down with an elbow ailment and exposed him to the Rule 5 draft. Brasoban, 22, received a stem-cell platelet-rich plasma injection, and will be re-evaluated in January, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Austin Hedges Knee Frankjanskygetty

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Conventional wisdom is that MLB catchers are more susceptible to passed balls and stolen bases on one knee. But is that really true?

• Manuel Margot, who will compete for the Padres’ center field job in spring training, had nine stolen bases in 10 tries with the Toros de Este in the Dominican Winter League. Margot homered twice but sported a .302 on-base percentage after over 120 plate appearances.

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