02/28/2013 7:10 PM ET
Hedges impresses staff with work behind plate
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- During Wednesday's split-squad loss to the A's, Padres Minor League outfielder Yeison Asencio made a strong throw from right field to nab a runner at the plate, with catcher Austin Hedges making a nice play for the tag.
"It was a tough short hop. [Hedges] spun back around [for the tag]," said Padres manager Bud Black. "It was a very good play."
Hedges, who caught three innings in the game against the A's, continues to impress the staff with the way he's handled himself in his first big league camp.
Hedges, hitless in three at-bats going into Thursday's game against the Royals, said he's been trying to absorb as much as he can before he's ultimately moved to Minor League camp in March.
"It's been awesome," said Hedges, who is the No. 5 Padres prospect, according to MLB.com. "... I have been trying to keep my ears open and learn everything I can. I feel like I've learned a lot and will try to learn even more."
Hedges, 20, who will begin the season with Single-A Lake Elsinore, said he's picked up more than simply baseball-related information, offensive and defensive aspects of the game that will help him grow as a player.
"It's the all-around game. But one of the big things is learning how to prepare yourself every day, before you go on the field, how you take care of yourself afterwards and learning how players take care of their bodies for the rest of the season," Hedges said.
Hedges, a second-round pick in 2011, estimates that he played 25 games his senior year in high school. Last season with Single-A Fort Wayne, he appeared in over 100 games, including the playoffs.
"I had a few bumps and bruises, but I thought I held up just fine," Hedges said. "It's a little different. But I think I was prepared, and I think even this year I'll be even more prepared."
Prospects get opportunity in split-squad games
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Minor League outfielder Jeremy Baltz, a second-round Draft pick in 2012, has been in Arizona for a week, participating in the team's annual prospect mini-camp.
But instead of another day filled with drills, Baltz got a huge surprise when he arrived at his locker on Wednesday.
Hanging inside Baltz's locker was a Padres' jersey; a big league jersey, one intended to be worn during Cactus League games here.
"I didn't know what that meant," Baltz said.
Baltz and a handful of Minor League prospects suited up for a pair of split-squad games Wednesday, and some of them played in games against the A's in Phoenix and Rockies in Peoria.
One of those players was Baltz, who made a nice running catch in left field in the very first inning after he was inserted into the game.
"I was nervous. My stomach had butterflies all day," Baltz said. "It was a great experience. Hopefully it will happen again."
Baltz, outfielders Travis Jankowski, Rico Noel and infielders Cory Spangenberg and Jace Peterson played in the loss to the Rockies.
Jankowski, who was the 44th overall selection in 2012, got a hit in his first at-bat, beating out an infield single against Rockies reliever Miguel Batista, 42, who is twice the age of Jankowski.
He didn't stay at first base long, as he promptly stole second base. He also struck out in his second at-bat of the game. Results aside, Jankowski was just happy to play.
"Around the fifth inning, the coaches told me to start warming up," Jankowski said. "But for the first couple of innings, I thought it might be a day to take it all in from the dugout."
On Thursday, Jankowski and the rest of his Minor League teammates were back in mini-camp, working on drills on the back fields, far from the Peoria Sports Complex. There's a chance manager Bud Black might use them again this spring, especially with a longer spring because of the World Baseball Classic.
"That was the first time I've been on the field since September seeing live pitching," Jankowski said. "It was a great atmosphere and I learned a lot from it. I guess there's no better time to do it than with the big leaguers."
Marquis adds changeup with Hoffman's help
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Looking to add a changeup this spring, Padres pitcher Jason Marquis didn't have to go far to find an apt teacher.
Marquis, who made his Cactus League debut on Thursday, sought former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, now a front office special assistant who has been in camp on occasion this spring.
"Why not take advantage of the greatest reliever in the game?" Marquis said.
Marquis was pleased with the handful of changeups he tossed in two scoreless innings of work against the Royals. Marquis, 34, allowed one hit and had one strikeout.
Marquis, typically a sinker-slider guy, wanted to add a pitch that didn't offer so much velocity. So this spring, he committed to adding a changeup.
"I feel like it can be a weapon," Marquis said. "Hopefully, it's a pitch I can use consistently."
Marquis said he talked with Hoffman about the different type of grips to use on a changeup to, as he said, "take some speed off it."
Hoffman, who utilized a nasty changeup during his 18-year career, saved 601 games -- 552 in 16 seasons with the Padres.
Now that Marquis has appeared in a game, Clayton Richard is the lone starting pitcher in camp who has not pitched in a Cactus League game. He's expected to start Sunday against the White Sox.