Coming into the 2014 season, C.J. Edwards – now Carl Edwards, Jr. – was inarguably the Chicago Cubs’ top pitching prospect. Not only had he torn up the lower minors, he had the kind of late-moving fastball that simply looks like the foundation of a big league starting repertoire. A couple good secondaries off of that bad boy, and you’re good to go. Sure, folks still had questions about Edwards’ build and whether he would have the physicality to sustain a starter’s workload (and effectiveness during that workload) at the big league level, but that was best left for another day.
Of course, those questions came right to the fore in early 2014, however, when Edwards suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out most of the season. Although he worked his way back late, and pitched very well at AA and in the Arizona Fall League, it was clear that his innings would have to be limited in 2015, one way or another.
The Cubs opted to pull the trick off by moving Edwards into the bullpen at AA – while still being careful to say that his starting days may not be behind him, and using Edwards for multiple innings at a time. Perhaps it’s the start of a unique reliever role for Edwards, perhaps it’s just a matter of limiting a starter’s innings, or perhaps it’s the start of a full-on transition to a more typical relief role.
Whatever the case, Edwards started finding serious success of late at AA, and now he’s apparently been promoted to AAA Iowa:
— Ballengee Group (@BallengeeGroup) May 29, 2015
CJ Edwards moving up to Triple A
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) May 29, 2015
At AA, Edwards, 23, has posted a 2.66 ERA and 3.11 FIP over 23.2 innings with a 17.0% BB rate (eek) and a 36.0% K rate (hello!). Over his last 14 innings, Edwards has allowed pretty much bupkis and struck out 25 and walked just 7. It looks like he adjusted to his new role.
All of Edwards’ outings but two have been for more than an inning of work, which is telling, and it’ll be interesting to see if that continues at Iowa.
The reported promotion hasn’t been announced by the Cubs yet.
Once Edwards gets settled in at AAA Iowa, you can bet that, if he has success, there will be calls for him to join the big league pen at some point this season. We talked about that possibility throughout the offseason, and, with Edwards already on the 40-man roster, there will be no reason not to bring him up *if* it looks like he can contribute and will not have his development adversely affected. Again: once he’s ready.