Xavier Edwards, a switch-hitting shortstop selected 38th overall in 2018 by the Padres, was limited to batting only left-handed in Rookie ball due to a wrist injury. His talent as one of the top hitters in his Draft class wasn't limited, however.
In 45 games after signing with San Diego, Edwards still managed to whack opposing pitching for a .346 batting average. Moved up to the Class A Fort Wayne TinCaps for the start of the 2019 season, the 5-foot-10, 175-pounder is hitting .354 in 26 games, including a five-hit performance on May 1.
"I'm back to switch-hitting this year; I'm hitting righty again," Edwards said. "Last year wasn't too bad. It was a little tough going left-on-left at first, but it ended up well."
Ranked as the No. 12 prospect in the Padres system, Edwards needed a couple of weeks to get into the swing of things. He was hitting .280 entering the last week of April, then his stats skyrocketed.
"I changed a few things with my pregame tendency and a few things in the cage, how I approach my day with the bat," he said. "I focused on some little things, like my top hand. It seems to be working as of late."
Video: Edwards triples to right for TinCaps
Edwards started switch-hitting when he was six years old, thanks to his father, Jovon Edwards, a former Minor Leaguer who was the Dodgers' fourth-round pick in 1984. Edwards fought off the urge to quit switch-hitting when it was extremely challenging in his formative years. Now, switch-hitting is a formidable weapon in his arsenal.
"All the off-speed pitches coming into me, whether it's a righty or a lefty," Edwards said of his advantage at the plate. "I'm a natural right-handed hitter. It's a challenge to stay on top of it, because there aren't as many left-handed pitchers, but it kind of makes an easier transition for me when it happens, because it's going to my dominant side."
2019 MiLB include
The elder Edwards has been a guiding influence for the son, who was a Vanderbilt commit before signing with the Padres. Jovon Edwards made his son aware of the 140-game grind of the Minor Leagues and what to expect, helping him to be prepared for the mental and physical challenges of the long season.
Xavier Edwards' mother, Lynette, initially got Xavier interested in baseball. Jovon Edwards was helping his daughter hone her prolific tennis career, and Lynette got the younger Xavier on the field.
"I'm grateful for the wonderful parents I have," Edwards said. "My mom got me into baseball, and my dad has taught me so much about the game, how to play the game and play it the right way."
Fort Wayne hitting coach Jon Mathews said Edwards has an intellectual depth in his approach to baseball.
"Xavier is just a great kid," Mathews said. "He's a really smart person and a really smart baseball player. He's been pleasure to be around.
"Xavier has a pretty good feel for breaking down pitchers and what they're going to try to do to him. For me, more than that, it helps him to control his emotions. He plays on a very even keel. He doesn't get too excited, he doesn't panic. He's got a really slow heartbeat. A lot of that is due to the fact that he's a really smart kid. He knows that he's had success in the past, and he will continue to have success in the future."
Flooding woes: A three-game series between division leaders Quad Cities and Great Lakes has been canceled and will not be made up because of the flooding situation in the Davenport area that has rendered Modern Woodmen Park unplayable. The Mississippi River is receding, but clean-up is still ongoing. The River Bandits have only played three home games out of 15 that were scheduled so far. Quad Cities has played home games at Minor League facilities in Clinton, Burlington, Cedar Rapids and Peoria, as well as a three--game series at the University of Iowa.
Pitching turnaround: Dragons pitchers are starting to get on the right track. Dayton hurlers have allowed four runs or less in six straight games (their best stretch so far this season). The team ERA over the last six games is 3.23, compared to the full-season ERA of 5.27.
Tampa Bay pick-up: Shane Baz was reassigned to Bowling Green from extended spring training. Baz, a 2017 MLB Draft first-round pick (12th overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates, was picked up by the Rays in a trade with the Bucs last August. He was a player to be named later in the deal that sent Chris Archer to the Pirates. Baz is the 10th-ranked prospect in the Rays' system, according to MLB.com.