With the draft just than little more than a week away, I wanted to highlight one guy that I personally would love for the Royals at picks 18, 33, or 34 (though if you want him, you probably want to get him at 18, as he’s slotted to go somewhere in the twenties). Xavier Edwards, a prep shortstop from Florida, is one of my favorite players in the draft. Not really considered a huge first round prospect heading into his senior season of high school, a mammoth campaign led to him to fly up the draft rankings, ranking in the top 50 of publications such as MLB Pipeline and Baseball America.
The name of the game for Edwards is speed, and ohhhh boy does he have it. A 70+ runner, he uses his 5’8″ 155 lbs frame to assist with agility, creating potential for a first-division shortstop with the glove with some polish. The arm strength might need some growing into, but it isn’t a noodle. The lateral feel at the premium position is what’s pretty.
My love for Edwards as a prospect comes from the fact that he could be plus-plus with the glove at shortstop while providing great offensive value and terrific base running (very aggressive runner with good instincts). A switch-hitter with a swing that spends a lot of time in the zone, Edwards profiles as a hitter with above-average plate discipline. The hand-eye coordination and overall feel at the plate is unbelievable for a high school hitter and is a huge reason as to why he’s rated so highly.
There is great rhythm in the swing. He keeps it simple, with nothing more than a toe-tap at times.
Edwards is never going to be a 20+ home run slugger, which may limit his ceiling slightly. The strength just isn’t there. He does have enough bat speed and an optimal plane on his swing that will keep him from being a soft-contact guy. The speed and contact skills will keep that batting average up.
There’s a wide range in opinion as to where Xavier Edwards will fall on draft boards. Some have him reaching as high as the teens, some have him not even going in the first round. If a team likes him, he might even get plucked closer to the top ten. What is likely is that the Royals will have at least one opportunity to grab Edwards, with a chance of him being available for all four of their early picks. If they really want him, they’d grab him at 18, as I mentioned above that he’s likely to land somewhere in the twenties.
If the Edwards does end up going early, signability shouldn’t be too much of a concern, but if he falls for whatever reason, his commitment to Vanderbilt may be something to keep an eye on.
Photo Credits: Baseball America