IF Xavier Edwards (S/R, 5’10 175, 21 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class-A Fort Wayne and Class A-Advanced Lake Elsinore: 561 PA, .322/.375/.396, 34/45 SB, 27 XBH, 7.8 BB%, 9.6 K%
Edwards finished the season at the organization’s alternate site after being acquired in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to San Diego in the offseason. He impressed in his first full pro season in 2019, reaching the Padres’ equivalent of Charlotte. He uses his plus-plus speed to have success. He knows the strike zone and how to get his bat on the ball, but he may never develop much power. His arm strength may limit him to second base.
Our readers were fairly divided over the position Edwards should rank on this list, but with Josh Lowe taking the No. 7 position, Edwards finally triumphed over Walls for No. 8 — interestingly, where Edwards ranked in our poll last year.
2021 Community prospect list
|1||SS Wander Franco||24||39||61.5%||1|
|2||OF Randy Arozarena||33||33||100.0%||9|
|3||IF Vidal Brujan||20||34||58.8%||3|
|4||RHP Luis Patino||Special||election||N/A|
|5||LHP Shane McClanahan||11||29||37.9%||6|
|6||RHP Shane Baz||19||28||67.9%||4|
|7||DH/LHP Brendan McKay||19||31||61.3%||2|
|8||OF Josh Lowe||9||27||33.3%||5|
|9||IF Xavier Edwards||14||34||41.2%||8|
|10||IF Taylor Walls||10||28||35.7%||15|
|11||RHP Brent Honeywell Jr.||10||27||37.0%||11|
|12||C/OF Heriberto Hernandez||Special||election||N/A|
|13||RHP Cole Wilcox||Special||election||N/A|
|14||SS Greg Jones||13||25||52.0%||12|
|15||SS Carlos Colmenarez||Special||election||N/A|
|16||C Blake Hunt||Special||election||N/A|
|17||RHP Joe Ryan||14||25||56.0%||13|
|18||LHP Josh Fleming||11||21||52.4%||26|
|19||RHP JJ Goss||8||25||32.0%||16|
|20||RHP Seth Johnson||15||25||60.0%||24|
|21||RHP Nick Bitsko||10||25||40.0%||N/A|
|22||3B Kevin Padlo||17||27||63.0%||14|
|23||SS Alejandro Pie||6||20||30.0%||31|
|24||SS Alika Williams||7||18||38.9%||N/A|
|25||IF Osleivis Basabe||6||17||35.3%||N/A|
|26||RHP Taj Bradley||5||18||27.8%||22|
|27||C Ford Proctor||5||18||27.8%||40|
|28||RHP Drew Strotman||12||20||60.0%||32|
|29||LHP Ian Seymour||6||17||35.3%||N/A|
|30||LHP John Doxakis|
|31||IF Esteban Quiroz|
|32||OF Jhon Diaz|
|33||IF Pedro Martinez|
|34||OF Nick Schnell|
|35||RHP Michael Mercado|
|36||SS Abiezel Ramirez|
|37||RP Ryan Thompson|
|38||RHP Sandy Gaston|
|39||LHP Michael Plassmeyer|
|40||IF Curtis Mead|
|41||OF Niko Hulsizer|
|42||OF Moises Gomez|
On to the candidates, with an update made to Bitsko’s profile with news that his shoulder surgery was to repair a labrum issue. Additionally, there has been one candidate added to the poll in Alika Williams.
RHP Nick Bitsko (6’4 220, 19 in 2021)
Drafted in 2020
For the third straight season, the Rays took a high school pitcher in the first round, even when the rest of the industry is trending the other way. Bitsko was considered a top prospect for the 2021 draft, but he reclassified and got drafted a year earlier. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s, and his curveball is a potential plus pitch. His changeup has potential, and he should be a strike thrower. Bitsko recently required shoulder surgery “to repair a labrum issue,” but the extent of the injury is not known.
RHP JJ Goss (6’3 185, 20 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Gulf Coast League Rays: 17 IP, 5.82 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.8 BB%, 22.5 K%
Goss improved throughout the spring in his draft year, and that led to the Rays selecting him with the No. 36 pick in 2019. His stuff got better. His velocity improved, and his breaking ball and changeup were sharper. Reports from 2020 indicate that trend has continued (Baseball America $). In addition, he was considered one of the best strike throwers in his draft class (BA $). With his athleticism, he should continue to throw strikes.
C Ronaldo Hernandez (R/R, 6’1 185, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte: 427 PA, .265/.299/.397, 9 HR, 31 XBH, 4.0 BB% 15.2 K%
Although he hasn’t played above A ball, Hernandez spent time on the Rays’ taxi squad and was in the postseason player pool, which could be a sign that the organization trusts his defensive improvements. He’s still a bat-first catcher with power potential, but he needs to work on his plate approach. He rarely strikes out, but more patience could lead to higher-quality contact.
RHP Brent Honeywell Jr. (6’2 195, 26 in 2021)
Did not pitch in 2019
It’s hard to believe this is the seventh season Honeywell has been on prospect lists. He had another elbow procedure in 2020. After Tommy John surgery cost him 2018, a broken elbow cost him 2019. When he last pitched, he had great stuff and threw strikes with a hard fastball, and impressive secondary pitches — a screwball, changeup, and slider.
SS Greg Jones (S/R, 6’2 175, 23 in 2021)
2019 statistics with short-season Hudson Valley: 218 PA, .335/.413/.461, 19/27 SB, 18 XBH, 10.1 BB%, 25.7 K%
Jones may have been considered raw coming out of UNC Wilmington, but he got his pro career off to a great start. He was third in the New York-Penn League in average, second in on-base percentage, and seventh in slugging percentage. His best tool is his speed. He may never hit for much power, but he should take good at-bats and get his bat on the ball to make use of his speed. He was a late addition to the team’s alternate site in 2020.
RHP Joe Ryan (6’1 185, 25 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class-A Bowling Green, Class A-Advanced Charlotte, and Double-A Montgomery: 123 2⁄3 IP, 1.96 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 5.6 BB%, 38.0 K%
Ryan came out of nowhere in 2019 and was one of the best pitchers in minor league baseball, and he was at the alternate site in 2020. He leans heavily on a fastball that batters have a hard time picking up, and he finished second in the minors in strikeouts. His velocity may only be above average, but he commands his fastball well and throws a lot of strikes. His changeup can be above average, and he has to improve his breaking ball.
IF Taylor Walls (S/R, 5’10 180, 24 in 2021)
2019 statistics with Class A-Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery: 423 PA, .270/.343/.452, 10 HR, 40 XBH, 28/43 SB, 10.6 BB%, 18.7 K%
An injury kept Walls from really starting his 2019 season until May, but it didn’t affect him much, as he was able to finish the season in Double A. Known as one of the better defenders in the organization, he gained versatility last season, often sharing the field with other prospects who needed innings at shortstop. At the plate, he makes consistent contact, knows the strike zone, and showed a little more power.
SS Alika Williams (R/R, 6’2 180, 22 in 2021)
Drafted in 2020
Williams was one of the top defensive infielders in the draft, and sticking at shortstop shouldn’t be an issue. On a team with the best college baseball players in the country, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 8 prospect (BA $), noting he had surprising success at the plate. He walked more than he struck out at Arizona State, but the pop he showed with Team USA was unexpected.