By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The road to baseball success for Spencer Edwards has included a few uphill climbs already.
Picked by Tampa Bay in the second round of the 2012 Major League draft, the shortstop had been ranked eighth among Texas high school prospects by ESPN.com.
It turns out he had some adjustments to make, going from the high school diamonds around Dallas, Texas, to face professional opponents.
“It’s a big difference, a big jump, seeing 90 (mile-per-hour pitches) every day in professional baseball, instead of high school, where you’re seeing 80 every day,” said Edwards, a new infielder for the Princeton Rays.
The 20-year-old, 170-pound shortstop toiled last summer in the Gulf Coast League, the level below Princeton.
Eight of his 24 hits were of the extra-base variety, but his average after 33 games was .188 and he struck out 42 times. He also stole eight bases in 12 tries.
“I learned a lot down there,” Edwards said about his experience in the GCL. “They taught me a lot, polished me up a little bit. I became a better team player, a better player than I was.”
Talking about his transition, he said, “I just had to slow the game down a little bit. When I first got here, I was trying to prove a point why I was here, and that I got drafted and all that kind of stuff. Now that I’ve figured out how to slow down the game, it’s a lot easier.”
“I love the coaches here. They’re all good coaches — and good people. They know the game, and know about life. They’ve taught me a lot so far about baseball and about life. They’re great people. I love ’em.”
“We’re a great team here. We all get together well. We all know each other; we all know how to play with each other. So I think we’ll have a great season down here.”
The highly-rated prospect graduated from Rockwall High School in metropolitan Dallas.
“It’s a pretty big town,” he said about his hometown. “There’s a lot to do in Rockwall. It’s a lot different than here. I’m out in the city, a lot of people ... Coming to a new town, it’s a big difference, but I like it here so far. It’s good.”
It’s particularly good to escape the heat of extended spring training in Florida — and to advance to the Appalachian League level.
He said, “It’s humid and hot down there. I sweat all the time, and so do all these players. We worked our butts off down there to get where we are now, and just keep moving up the ladder.”
“(We’re going to) play hard, and do everything we can to win.”
He said the Appy League has been “everything I expected. Great fans, great players, great team.”
When asked last week if he was aware of the Mercer Cup rivalry between Princeton and neighboring Bluefield, he answered, “Not really. I don’t know much about them.”
“All I know is that we’re going to go out there every game and play hard and whatever happens, happens. Hopefully, we come up on the top side of it and win a lot of ballgames this year.”
— Contact Tom Bone at