The AAA Iowa season ends today, which, among other things, means the final non-developmental impediment to calling up anyone playing there who is already on the 40-man roster will soon fade away.
Earlier this weekend, we talked about Cubs pitching prospect Carl Edwards, Jr. (formerly C.J.) coming up to join the big league team down the stretch, and Joe Maddon subsequently indicated it was coming eventually:
Maddon said Rodney is part of late inning mix now and said Carl Edwards Jr. will be part of bullpen mix at some point, too. #CubsTalk
— Cubs Talk (@CSNCubs) September 4, 2015
That eventually could be as soon as today, according to Jesse Rogers:
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) September 7, 2015
Edwards, who just turned 24, has been pitching exclusively out of the bullpen this year after missing much of 2014 with a shoulder injury. He split time between AA and AAA, posting a 2.77 ERA over 55.1 innings, striking out an incredible 75, but walking an even more incredible (in the not-so-good way) 41. At Iowa, in particular, Edwards saw his walk rate swell to 18.2% (even as his strikeout rate continued to hover around 30%).
So, then, to say that there’s still refinement needed in Edwards’ game is an understatement. To say that he’s got great natural stuff, though, would also be an understatement. If you’ve not seen Edwards pitch before, and if he gets into some game action this month, you’re going to see why, despite the walks and the move the bullpen, he’s remained a top pitching prospect for the Cubs. The arm and the movement on his pitches is special.
The control issues will limit his upside for now. If you’re an extreme strikeout guy, you can get by giving up some walks, even in high-leverage innings. But, at the big league level, Edwards will have to improve his command to keep those strikeout totals up (without getting crushed when he comes into the zone). He can generate a lot of grounders, which helps, too.
For now, I wouldn’t expect Edwards to immediately become an impact guy. Instead, he might see a few outings down the stretch in low or medium-leverage settings, and the whole exercise will mostly be about getting him exposed to the big league level as a lead in to 2016. Then, he could compete for a big league bullpen spot, or perhaps could move back into the rotation at AAA with an eye toward a big league return around mid-season.