Hedges, Asencio have a ball at Futures Game
NEW YORK -- Class A catcher Austin Hedges started for the U.S. Team in Sunday's SiriusXM Futures Game at Citi Field. Outfielder Yeison Asencio began the game on the bench for the World Team.
Asencio, a teammate of Hedges' early in the season, is now playing at Double-A San Antonio. A native of the Dominican Republic, the 23-year-old is a product of San Diego's new academy in that baseball hotbed.
In their 44-year history, the Padres have never had a high-level Dominican player star for the big league ballclub.
"I wasn't aware of that," Asencio said through an interpreter before the U.S. defeated the World Team, 4-2. "I didn't know that the Padres never had a significant Dominican impact player. I'm really excited and happy to be in that position to become the first significant Dominican player for the Padres."
The Padres certainly have had significant Latin impact players, with Benito Santiago, Roberto Alomar and Carlos Baerga all signed as youngsters out of Puerto Rico. Mexican left-hander Fernando Valenzuela signed with the Padres as a free agent, and Adrian Gonzalez, a Mexican-American who grew up in San Diego, was obtained through a trade with Texas.
Asencio has combined at two levels this year to hit .303 with six homers and 60 RBIs. He's never visited Petco Park, and said that Citi Field is the biggest ballpark he's played in. He entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning as a defensive replacement in left field and had one at-bat in eighth inning, flying out to left.
He's hitting .315 playing in 32 Texas League games for San Antonio.
"It's a step closer to the big leagues, which is the ultimate dream for me," said Asencio, who is from San Cristobal, near Santo Domingo.
Hedges is from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., about an hour's drive north of San Diego on Interstate 5. He was selected by the Padres out of high school in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and is midway through his second full season in the organization, playing for the Storm in Lake Elsinore, just a long pop fly from Petco Park.
Hedges played five innings on Sunday and had two at-bats, popping out to short and grounding out to third. He also tossed out Xander Bogaerts trying to steal second to end the top of the first.
He was beaming afterward.
"I nailed him," Hedges said.
"I've been pleased with the way I've been playing. I had a rough spot for about a month," added Hedges, who is batting .273 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 52 games for the Storm. "I got hit in the hand with a fastball, and I missed almost all of May."
That injury is part of an epidemic throughout baseball this year. The Yankees have lost both Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli after errant pitches broke bones in their hands, Granderson twice. Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong has also missed much of the last few months after sustaining a similar injury.
"I've seen there are quite a few guys being hit by pitches in the hand," Hedges said. "It was rough to miss that much time. But I'm glad to be back, and obviously glad to be here right now. I'm just going about my business every day, I try and get better every day. The rest is up to the Padres."
The Futures Game was a chance of a lifetime, and Hedges had a ball.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "It was just one great day."