Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cj edwards daytona cubsAn eyewitness report from BP Wrigleyville suggests Cubs prospect Carl Edwards, Jr. (formerly C.J.) is trending in the right direction and on the brink of being Major League ready.

Among the highlights are descriptions of his fastball (“operating in the 92-95 range, and touching 96 with natural cutting action”) and curveball (“sat in the upper 70s with above-average depth, and tight spin”) which both graded out as “plus” pitches. Decker also described Edwards change-up as an above-average pitch, noting that it was impressive, but still needed more work.

You can read Brandon Decker’s full report here.

Edwards’ Triple-A debut on May 30 was a rocky one as he allowed two runs, one hit, three walks and didn’t record a strikeout. Since then, he has performed admirably enough to earn consideration for a call-up to Chicago sometime this summer.

As it turns out, Edwards also had a slow start at Double A this season as he walked two batters in each of his first five outings. Eventually, he turned it around as he struck out 25 and walked only seven (3.57-1 K/BB) over his next eight outings before his promotion to Triple A.

Edwards’ most recent work out of the Iowa Cubs’ bullpen over the last six games has been solid.

He has limited opposing hitters to a .129 average and .194 slugging percentage, as only four of the 37 batters he has faced in that span have recorded hits in his last 10 innings of work. His 32.4 K% (12 strikeouts) shows the potential for swing-and-miss stuff, while the 13.5 BB% (5 walks) suggests there is still work to be done in regard to controlling his lively pitches.

Interesting to note that Edwards has worked two innings in four of his last six appearances, including each of the last three. He has recorded multiple strikeouts in three of his four two-inning outings. Further, batters are only 4-for-25 (.160 avg.) in those contests.

While Edwards might have three pitches that have the potential to be above average offerings, one of the concerns about his future is if he is built to pitch six-plus innings every five days. It is plausible that while Edwards might not have the frame to withstand that workload, he could find a home as a reliever who can give a team two innings every three days — as has been the pattern in his last three outings.

Of the Cubs’ most reliable relievers, Justin Grimm already has four outings in which he has recorded four outs or more. He had 10 such outings in 2014. Pedro Strop and James Russell have each done it twice, while Hector Rondon and Jason Motte have done it once.

Edwin Jackson has had nine games in which he has recorded five outs or more, but the Cubs have found a niche for him in low-leverage, multi-inning situations.

Entering Saturday’s games, Cubs starting pitchers have thrown the ninth fewest innings in baseball. If that trend continues, it seems as if it is only a matter of time in which the Cubs could use a reliever to bridge the gap to the high-leverage arms at the back-end of the bullpen.

And maybe Carl Edwards, Jr. can be that guy.

For what it’s worth, Joe Maddon was very complimentary of Edwards’ stuff this spring.

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