Royals' Edwin Carl's Numbers Are Too Good To Be Believed

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Just a little more than a year ago, Edwin Carl was on a family trip with baseball in his rearview mirror.

After a reasonably successful career at New Mexico as a reliever, Carl watched the 2010 draft come and go without hearing his name called out. So that was that. Goodbye baseball, hello the rest of his life.

Then the phone rang. With that call, the minors' most successful reliever this summer got a second chance at a career.

It was mid July of last year. The Royals needed a reliever to send to the Rookie-level Pioneer League. Royals area scout Ken Munoz checked his notes and suggested the team sign Carl.

"He's always shown arm strength and an ability to pitch," Munoz said. "He was doing a nice job in New Mexico's bullpen. He was getting a lot of work. He looked like a guy who could go out and be a solid contributor. We needed an arm and his name jumped out."

When Carl answered the phone, Munoz asked if he was interested in becoming a pro baseball player. With that, Carl's vacation was happily cut short.

The roster filler has turned into much more than that.

Pitching for Idaho Falls, Carl is 2-1, 1.15 with five saves in 31 innings. Those are the least impressive of his stats. He has 68 strikeouts, and his 19.74 strikeouts per nine innings leads all minor league pitchers with 25 or more innings. His 0.58 WHIP (walks and hits divided by innings pitched) is second best in the minors. His .138 average against is eighth-best among pitchers with 25 or more innings and his 0.87 walks per nine innings is 15th best in the minors.

A better way to explain it is that Carl has faced 119 batters this year, and more than half of them have struck out. He may be righthanded, but Carl isn't exactly having a problem pitching to lefties. He's struck out 33 of the 46 lefthanders he's faced, and he's yet to allow an extra-base hit to a lefty.

Righthanders have had a much easier time: they have five extra-base hits in 64 at-bats and a .156 average against.

Unlike many relievers compiling silly numbers, Carl isn't a trick pitcher. He's not getting his outs with a palmball or some other pitch that usually doesn't translate to success at the higher levels. His stuff sounds pretty straightforward—a 91-93 mph fastball that has touched 95 mph and a solid breaking ball and changeup.

Now, there's still reason to have some skepticism when you see numbers like that. Carl's putting up these unfathomable numbers in the Pioneer League, which is five steps away from the big leagues. And he's a 23-year-old pitching to plenty of 19, 20 and 21-year-olds.

Farm director Scott Sharp said the Royals have looked at bumping Carl up to low Class A Kane County, but because the bullpen there is pretty set, they'd rather see Carl compile more innings in Idaho Falls than get sporadic work in the Midwest League. But the one-time roster filler will now get several more chances to prove his stuff plays at higher levels.

"He's done a lot to change his status," Sharp said. "We're fortunate our scout recognized him."