Carl Edwards Jr. has been widely considered the top arm in the Cubs farm system for the past two seasons. Edwards, who was impressive in his first big-league spring training, spent half of last season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation that occurred in April. This undoubtedly was a major concern for many scouts when talking about Edwards, leading them to wonder if his body could sustain a full season as a starter. The slender 6-foot-3, 170-pound Edwards doesn’t have the frame one would look for out of a middle of the rotation starter that the Cubs have been looking to develop in their system, and thus, Edwards was moved to the pen at the beginning of this season.
I recently saw Edwards in an outing at Triple-A Iowa and was extremely impressed. Much to the dismay of many Cubs fans, I truly believed that Brian Schlitter was the best arm out of the pen in Triple-A. Even with his poor big-league numbers, with Gonzalez Germen right behind him in the Cubs minor-league Triple-A pen options, and Blake Cooper the best middle-relief option. Well, Edwards has definitely changed my opinion.
The slender righty is major-league ready. He showcased impressive swing-and-miss stuff over two innings of work, operating in the 92-95 range, and touching 96 with natural cutting action. His curve sat in the upper 70s with above-average depth, and tight spin. Both pitches graded out as plus. The changeup is the third pitch in Edwards’ arsenal, one that many have pointed our needs the most work, but in this outing, it was impressive. He sequenced it well, and the natural split action graded out as an above-average pitch.
Edwards throws a heavy ball that hitters rarely make hard contact against. The one concern is his control. His pitches have so much life and movement, that the control is currently fringe average. The walks have consistently gone up as he has progressed through the minors, and is something that he’ll need to continue to work on. You know what you’re getting with a guy like Edwards, a heavy throwing electric arsenal with natural movement on the fastball and changeup, as well as a plus upper-70s curve.
He has the stuff for a middle of the rotation starter, but the frame and command will likely keep him in the pen, where he would undoubtedly be a reliable weapon. Edwards has the stuff to be a very solid late-inning reliever who Chicago could definitely use in the big leagues this season.