Highly-touted infield prospect Xavier Edwards has been the TinCaps' leadoff hitter all season, a sparkplug at the top of the lineup that led the league in hitting at .336 and swiped 20 stolen bases, fourth in the league.
Now Edwards will fill that same position with the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Padres High-A affiliate, after San Diego promoted him today. Edwards becomes the second TinCaps player in less than a week to be (likely) permanently promoted to the Storm, joining starting pitcher Gabe Mosser.
With Fort Wayne mired in last place in the Eastern Division, the loss of Edwards is another blow to the team's playoff hopes, but the 19-year-old had little left to prove in the Midwest League.
Edwards, the Padres' No. 14 prospect according to Fangraphs, has been one of the Midwest League's most dangerous hitters all season, not only leading the race for the batting title (no one else is hitting better than .325), but also ranking third in on-base percentage at .392. Those numbers earned him a starting spot on the Midwest League's Eastern Division All-Star Team at second base.
With runners on base, Edwards was especially effective because he was always a threat to bunt, putting extra pressure on defenses.
The 2018 No. 38 overall pick was a capable defender at second and short all season and his hitting has never been in question, but what really put him over the top in terms of the promotion was likely a recent surge in power.
Power has always been the one tool that Edwards doesn't have in abundance. With his top-of-the-scale speed and bat-to-ball ability, he hasn't really needed to hit the ball over the fence much in order to be an effective offensive force.
Edwards had just 12 extra-base hits in the first 67 games he played this season, but in his final 10 Midwest League games, he had six more, including two triples and his first career home run. He was hitting the ball in the air more often, as well: in April his fly ball rate was just 22.5% and it increased to 42.5% in his final 30 games with the TinCaps.
Hitting the ball in the air with more authority led Edwards to slug .643 in those final 10 games and likely convinced the San Diego brass that he was ready for the challenge a promotion would bring.
In order to fill the hole in the Fort Wayne roster created by Edwards' departure, the Padres promoted Luke Becker, a 23-year-old infielder, from short-season Tri-City. Becker was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
The switch-hitting Becker, who can play second, third or short, was getting on base at a .383 clip with the Dust Devils and walking more often than he struck out by a significant margin. He's not a power hitter and this will be his first time playing in full-season pro ball.
There had been some speculation that when Edwards was promoted, the Padres might promote 2019 first-round pick CJ Abrams to Fort Wayne. Abrams, the sixth overall pick in the draft, is hitting a blistering .419 with 10 steals in 16 games in rookie ball, but he won't be promoted yet.