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Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Austin Hedges, the TinCaps’ 20-year-old catcher, started for the Eastern Division in the Midwest League All-Star game.

TinCaps impress Padres’ brass


The TinCaps made the playoffs for the fourth straight year. And nearly took home their second championship in that span.

Fort Wayne reached the Midwest League championship, falling to Wisconsin 3-1.

Randy Smith, director of player development for San Diego (Fort Wayne’s parent club), said he was proud of how the team matured through the year.

“I’d like to think that had we been healthy and the pitchers not been running on fumes, I think we might have had a different outcome there at the end,” Smith said in a phone interview Monday. “It was a great year.

“(Pitchers Johnny) Barbato, (Matt) Stites, (James) Needy, (Adys) Portillo, the flashes we saw out of (outfielder Kyle) Gaedele and (first baseman Lee) Orr. Really the whole group, I can talk about all of them. I’m really proud of what they did and the way they grew up.”

Here are five TinCaps to keep tabs on as they make their way through San Diego’s system:

Yeison Asencio

Position: Outfielder

2012 statistics: .323 batting average, 8 HR, 61 RBI

Skinny: Asencio became the first Fort Wayne player to win the Midwest League batting title.

Smith’s take: “To accomplish what he did with basically no spring training; … He earned it. He went out and did what he had to do to win (the batting title).”

Austin Hedges

Position: Catcher

2012 statistics: .279 batting average, 10 HR, 56 RBI

Skinny: Hedges put up remarkable numbers for a full-time catcher who was 19 years old at the start of the season.

Smith’s take: “Remarkably consistent. Very impressed, he fell off a little bit in July and bounced back and had a tremendous August. He improved defensively as the year went along.”

Travis Jankowski

Position: Outfielder

2012 statistics: .282 average, 17 stolen bases, 23 RBI

Skinny: Jankowski had a franchise-record 23-game hitting streak.

Smith’s take: “He had a little bit of a slow start and finished incredibly strong. A great experience for him playing in playoff atmosphere.”

Jace Peterson

Position: Shortstop

2012 statistics: .286 average, 51 stolen bases, 48 RBI

Skinny: Finished second in the Midwest League in stolen bases.

Smith’s take: “To me, he’s a leader. He has that football mentality (he played both baseball and football at McNeese State), and it really sets the tone for the club.”

Matt Wisler

Position: Pitcher

2012 statistics: 5-4, 2.53 ERA, 113 Ks

Skinny: Wisler, from Bryan, Ohio, emerged as the ace of the staff after the promotion of Portillo to Double-A.

Smith’s take: “He had to be one of the best pitchers in the league. A very bright future. Tremendous stuff, great poise. He has a great way about himself.”