Jason McLeod still raves about right-handed pitching prospect Carl Edwards, Jr.
During the Down on the Farm seminar at the Cubs Convention, the Cubs’ scouting and player development chief complimented Edwards’ fastball, which is as lively as they come as far as Cubs pitchers are concerned. He also noted Edwards’ curveball and his knack for missing bats. But McLeod had one request for his young right-hander:
“I wish he’d throw his changeup more.”
Edwards (you can see his BrooksBaseball page here) relied heavily on his fastball during his brief stint in The Show and admitted as much during the seminar. He noted a difference between starting and coming out of the bullpen was the fact he didn’t have a pace when pitching in relief, adding he simply wanted to blow his fastball past hitters.
PITCHF/x had Edwards’ average fastball clocked at 93.7, while his cutter came in at 91.9 (though his fastball has natural cutting action, so these are actually similar pitches for him). Further, Edwards threw some variation of his fastball 64.8 percent of the time during his time as a September call-up. However, the curveball (thrown at a 32.4% rate, according to BrooksBaseball.net) was Edwards’ swing-and-miss pitch, getting whiffs on 13.04 percent of curves.
As for the changeup McLeod wants to see moving forward, Edwards threw it only 2.8 percent of the time.
But here’s the caveat: Edwards threw a grand total of 71 pitches against big league hitters in 2015.
- 46 fastballs
- 23 curveballs
- 2 change-ups
It is admittedly as small as a small sample size can get.
However, McLeod made it clear he wants to see more diversity out of Edwards’ pitch mix moving forward. And that small token of acknowledgement from a high-ranking member of the organization supersedes anything else here.
Naturally, honing his skills with those pitches can only make Edwards a better, more valuable pitcher as he develops over time, wherever he ends up slinging it.
Edwards’ future is still up in the air because his role has yet to be determined. McLeod said the organization had not yet ruled out moving Edwards back into the starting rotation. But for now, it seems as if Edwards’ most likely destination is the bullpen. And, even if Edwards remains in the bullpen, he’ll still benefit greatly from having three usable pitches. Yes, relievers can succeed with just two pitches, but adding a third above-average offering only enhances the chances for success.
The 2016 season will be a major developmental year for Edwards, who could win a spot in the bullpen out of spring training with a refined approach on the mound and improvements with pitch selection and execution.
It will be interesting to see what Edwards’ next step will look like whenever he makes it.