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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: AUSTIN HEDGES C SAN DIEGO PADRES

When it comes to the catcher position in fantasy baseball, the bar is set very low here given the annual dearth of even somewhat useful options for your team.  This always causes the few top guys like Buster Posey and this year Gary Sanchez to see grossly inflated draft prices (both guys already have earned the anger of their owners) and makes the rest of us constantly pan for guys to sign off the wire.  My personal strategy has always been to smile and not have a care in the world when the Poseys and Sanchez' of the world are drafted and instead pick an upside or undervalued catcher later in the draft.  Prospects and guys coming off somewhat disappointing years qualify here and one such player who belongs in the former category is the San Diego Padres' Austin Hedges.  The former 2011 second-round pick certainly had the prospect tag applied to him given how high he was drafted and that was further enhanced when he went out and hit .326 with 21 home runs at Triple-A in 2016.  Of course Hedges got those numbers in the offensive bonanza that is the PCL and so there was some regression expected overall but he still carries intrigue when 2017 drafts came around.

While Hedges went as a decent sleeper pick this spring, his start to 2017 was beyond rough as he piled on strikeout after strikeout.  That caused some rash and impatient owners to cut Hedges loose and thus miss out on the recent power binge he has supplied.  Hedges is now up to six home runs on the season in just 66 at-bats which actually makes him one of the better power-hitting catchers of the season.  The overall package though is shaky as Hedges has just a .189 average due to the fact he has put up a ghastly 28.8 K/9 rate and tiny 4.5 BB/9.  Hedges really needs to cut into those K's in order to save his average and gain some more fantasy baseball relevancy.  Right now he is a newer Mike Zunino or J.P. Arencibia and that doesn't get you very excited in fantasy baseball.  The upside remains though and Hedges' best days are ahead of him.  In two catcher formats Hedges has more value but in single leagues he can be played as well due to how poor the outlook is again on the position.


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