Class A Fort Wayne dropped its last four games of April and finished the season's first month with losses in eight of its last 11 games. The TinCaps needed to start May on the right foot. Xavier Edwards -- a plus-plus runner -- knows a thing or two about being on the right foot, so he led from the top Wednesday.
The Padres' No. 14 prospect set a career mark for hits in a game by going 5-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored to lead Fort Wayne to a 10-4 win over Kane County at Parkview Field. It was Edwards' 10th multi-hit game of the season (through 21 games) and surpassed his previous high of four hits in a game, established on June 22, 2018 with the Padres' Arizona League affiliate.
"I feel pretty good about it," Edwards said. "Hopefully it's not my last five-hit game. I know it's a tough game, but every time I'm out there, I'm going to try to get my hits, so hopefully this is just the first of a few like this."
Gameday box score
The switch-hitting middle infielder, who got the start at second base, opened with a leadoff single on a soft liner to right in the first inning. He lined another single to right in the third, though he was later erased trying to swipe home on a double steal.
His -- and the TinCaps' -- big inning came two frames later. With two runners and no outs and rain starting to pour in Fort Wayne, Edwards saw Cougars third baseman Buddy Kennedy sitting slightly back and placed a perfect bunt down the line, beating out the charging Kennedy's throw with ease. Later in the fifth, Edwards came up again, this time to face right-handed reliever Ryan Miller, and stroked an RBI double to right-center, bringing home Fort Wayne's ninth run of the inning. He picked up his fifth and final hit in the eighth with a liner up the middle to center off Miller.
Video: TinCaps' Edwards doubles to right-center
Both of those last two knocks came on the first pitches he saw from the Cougars reliever, a sign of confidence after going 3-for-3 to open the game. But more accurately, it was a good approach against a new pitcher.
"I was looking for a pitch to that I could be able to drive both times," he said. "It was a new pitcher on the fourth hit, so I was thinking he would challenge me with a fastball. But he left me a changeup right over the plate instead and I drove it pretty well. With the last one, I thought that he's gotta challenge me with the fastball, and when I got it, I just tried to make good contact."
Edwards's performance Wednesday was the latest in a string of strong performances from the Florida native. Including the 5-for-5 showing, he is 15-for-24 (.625) in his last seven games with one triple, three doubles and four walks and has struck out just once in 29 plate appearances over that span. Since that stretch began on April 24, no other Class A hitter has more than 12 hits, never mind 15. Edwards now leads the Midwest League with a .390 average and .449 on-base percentage through 21 games -- not bad for a player who was hitting .283 as late as April 22 -- and the Padres prospect is constantly making adjustments.
"It's a lot of top-hand stuff," Edwards said. "Earlier in the season, I was rolling over a lot of balls, especially to the pull side. So we've focused a lot on getting the top hand of the bat more solid, just so I can stay through the ball better. Today, I stayed on it a lot longer, and that helped me get balls into the gaps a little more instead of just grounding them to second."
2019 MiLB include
The Padres took Edwards with the 38th overall pick last year and signed him for $2.6 million, adding him to arguably the deepest mix of prospects in the Minors. He demonstrated an impressive bat and stellar speed in his first taste of the pros, finishing with a .346 average, .453 OBP and 22 steals in 45 games between the AZL and Class A Short Season Tri-City last summer, and it hasn't taken him long to impress in the Midwest League.
"I'm definitely going to stick to what I'm doing and take whatever they're going to give me," Edwards said. "I'll probably drop another bunt if I see them sitting back on me. I like getting hits. There's nothing else to it. I want to get as many hits as I can, so whatever they want to give me I'll take to keep my hits up."