Chihuahuas’ Catcher Hedges Named PCL Player of the Week

The Pacific Coast League named El Paso Chihuahuas’ catcher Austin Hedges and Round Rock Express’ left-hander Michael Roth the Player and Pitcher of the Week for June 20-26, the league office announced Monday afternoon.

Hedges homered in five straight games for the Chihuahuas, while Roth’s two starts were highlighted by a near no-hitter.

Hedges hit .550 (11-for-20) over six games, leading all of professional baseball in slugging percentage (1.400), OPS (1.983) and RBI (14), while tying for first in home runs (5). The only other PCL player to homer in five straight games this season was Tacoma’s Mike Zunino (4/13-18/2016).

Hedges, who has never hit more than 10 homers in any of his six professional seasons, can match the PCL’s all-time mark for consecutive games with a home run if he can hit one in each of his next two games.

The 23-year-old also paced the PCL last week in total bases (28) and extra-base hits (7), with his .583 on-base percentage finishing second.

The California native has been on the Chihuahuas roster all season, but spent nearly eight weeks on the disabled list. In 26 games, Hedges has hit .364 (32-for-88) with six doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBI, 16 runs scored and a 1.157 OPS. The Padres originally selected Hedges in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of JSerra Catholic High School (CA). He made his major league debut last season, hitting three home runs, driving in 11 in 56 games.

Over his six-year professional career, Hedges has twice been tabbed a Mid-Season All-Star (2012, 2014) and Organizational All-Star (2012-13). Additionally, he played in 15 games in the 2013 Arizona Fall League with the Peoria Javelinas and was named to the All-Prospect and Rising Starts teams.

This is his first career Player of the Week award. He is the fourth Chihuahua to win this award this season, joining Hunter Renfroe (4/18-24), Casey McElroy (5/2-8) and Ryan Schimpf (5/30-6/5).

In two starts, Roth threw a MiLB-best 15.2 innings, giving up two runs on nine hits with four walks and seven strikeouts.

Roth nearly made history in his last start; on June 26 against Colorado Springs, he tossed a 9.0-inning, two-hit shutout with one walk and three strikeouts, lowering his PCL-best ERA to 2.66. He took a no-hitter into the 8th inning – the first time a PCL pitcher has done so this season – before giving up a one-out triple. In total, he allowed just four baserunners and threw 63 of his 102 pitches for strikes.

The 26-year-old is the first PCL left-hander to toss a 9.0-inning complete game shutout on two or fewer hits since Memphis’ Tim Cooney did so May 29, 2014 against Iowa.

Roth tossed a quality start in his other outing last week, June 21 at Oklahoma City, going 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts, but took a tough-luck loss in the Express’ 2-1 defeat.

The South Carolina product has spent the entire season with the Express after signing a minor league deal with the Rangers on February 21. In 17 appearances (12 starts), he is 7-3 with a 2.66 ERA (81.1 IP, 24 ER), 20 walks, 52 strikeouts, and a 1.06 WHIP that’s second-best in the league. Roth was originally selected by the Angels in the ninth round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

He spent the first three years of his career in the Angels organization. Roth was a Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star with the Double-A Texas League’s Arkansas Travelers in 2014. He made his major league debut in 2013, and over the course of two seasons, appeared in 22 major league games (1 start), going 2-1 with a 7.79 ERA (32.1 IP, 28 ER).

He elected free agency after the 2014 season and signed with the Indians for 2015, where he spent the whole year with Triple-A Columbus. This is his third career Player of the Week award, having previously won twice in 2014 with Arkansas.