Name: Carl Edwards Jr., P
Age: 23 (9/3/1991)
How acquired: Traded by Rangers with Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, and Neil Ramirez for Matt Garza on July 22, 2013
Status: Currently in Iowa and on Cubs 40-man roster.
NSR 2015 Ranking: # 6
The video of C.J. Edwards’ Cubs debut for Daytona was impressive. He mowed down the first seven hitters he faced, displaying a fastball in the mid-90s with late movement and a knee buckling breaking ball. His performance after the trade catapulted the right-hander onto the national scene as MiLB.com named him the 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
He got a start with the big league club at the end of spring training in 2014 and was assigned to AA in Tennessee to baffle Southern League hitters. After four starts for the Smokies in April, Edwards headed to the field after his April 20 outing to play catch and couldn’t throw. He went to Chicago for a MRI on his shoulder which came back negative but didn’t return to Kodak unit August, making six starts and finishing his AA campaign 1-2 with a 2.44 ERA in 48 innings.
After pitching in the Arizona Fall League, Edwards headed to spring training and learned he would spend 2015 in the bullpen. He returned to Tennessee, appeared in 13 games, sported a 2.66 ERA, collected five saves, recorded 13.2 K/9 and was promoted to AAA in late May. His numbers at Iowa have been similar, with a .138 BAA and 23 K in 17.2 innings over 11 appearances.
But there’s a couple of blips on the radar for the String Bean Slinger. First and foremost are the walks. After sporting a 3.2 BB/9 over 116 innings in 2013, the right-hander’s command has not been good. At Tennessee this season, that shot up to 6.5 and its not much better at Iowa, sporting a 6.6 BB/9 after 11 games.
You could justify that its part of the switch to the bullpen but Edwards said making the change has “not been that big of a deal.” The big problem is his fastball command and getting ahead of the hitters, something he thrived on before the arm injury.
Another interesting tidbit is how the Cubs have treated Edwards this year. He’s faced 11 hitters twice, once in his first game in AA (2.1 IP), which is also his longest outing. The Cubs have given the right-hander three-to-four days in between appearances which is much longer than the normal bullpen arm, especially for a pitcher who’s logged over 100 innings in a season. For a large majority of his appearances, he’s started the inning and only once in Triple-A has he entered the game with runners on.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said back in spring training the Cubs were going “to manage his innings” and “figure it out” once they got into it.
If the Cubs are “saving his arm” for the playoff chase in September, they’re going to need to up his work load at some point, and its even possible he could be stretched out as a starter if the Cubs don’t add another arm at the trade deadline and injuries continue to mount.
His fastball velocity is still sitting in the mid-90s but the command issues, especially with the extra rest in between games, is a concern. Hopefully, Edwards can fine tune his delivery and be ready to throw strikes if he gets the call to Wrigley Field.