- Full name Carl Fleming Edwards Jr.
- Born 09/03/1991 in Newberry, SC
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 165 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Mid-Carolina
- Debut 09/07/2015
- Drafted in the 48th round (1,464th overall) by the Texas Rangers in 2011.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, Edwards tore through Class A in 2013 with 155 strikeouts and one home run allowed in 116 innings. The biggest question about him was whether he could remain durable and maintain a starter's workload with his slight frame, and the answer has been no. The Cubs shifted Edwards the bullpen at Double-A Tennessee in 2015, which sped his path to the major leagues, and he made his debut in September against the Cardinals. Edwards' fastball picked up a tick or two of velocity in a relief role, regularly sitting at 94-95 mph for up to two innings, and the pitch retains its late movement that keeps it tough to square up and elevate. Edwards' command has backed up at upper levels, and he lacks true fastball command. Compounding the problem, he hasn't been able to locate his secondary stuff consistently. His changeup and curveball both flash above-average, but it won't matter if he can't throw consistent fastball strikes. As a reliever, Edwards has the stuff to still make an impact, perhaps even closing games down the line. He looks like part of a deep relief corps the Cubs have assembled in the upper levels of the minors and should see more time in Chicago in 2016--as long as he stays healthy.
Signed for $50,000 in the 48th round (which no longer exists) by the Rangers, Edwards broke out in 2013 in low Class A and was a key piece the Cubs received in trade that sent Matt Garza to Texas. Edwards missed most of 2014 with a right shoulder strain, making four April starts at Double-A Tennessee and six more after returning in August. He didn't need surgery. At his best, Edwards delivers three above-average to plus pitches, with excellent body control leading to an easy, rhythmic delivery and strike-throwing ability. He's very tough for hitters to square up due to late cutting action on his fastball, which generally sat 90-93 mph in August and in his Arizona Fall League stint. The late life on the pitch has helped him miss barrels, saw off bats and yield just two homers in 237 career pro innings. His curveball improved over his 2013 model, with more snap now in the upper 70s. The changeup flashes plus, playing off his fastball. His feel for pitching returned, though his command showed rust. Durability remains Edwards' biggest concern, and he raised more questions this year than he answered, but Cubs officials believe he learned a lesson in how to prepare for a full season. Chicago's best pitching prospect likely will start 2015 back at Double-A, with front-of-the-rotation stuff and doubts over how often he can go to the post.
Rangers area scout Chris Kemp found Edwards in a South Carolina adult league playing with other members of his baseball-steeped family. The Rangers waited until the 48th round to draft him and signed him for $50,000, then watched him emerge as the top prospect on their loaded 2013 low Class A Hickory team. He became the key piece in the package of prospects the Cubs received in the Matt Garza trade. Edwards misses barrels and bats, combining great stuff with tremendous work ethic and makeup. His thin frame evokes comparisons with Oil Can Boyd and prompts questions about his durability, but his stuff was at its best in September during the Florida State League playoffs. He locates his 93-95 mph fastball with excellent riding life and has allowed only one pro homer. His curveball gives him a second plus pitch, and he throws a hard slider that earns average grades. He uses his changeup sparingly but locked up lefthanded hitters anyway (.175, five extra-base hits in 166 at-bats). He needs more strength to maintain his stuff and keep his long arms and delivery on time. If he can hold up physically over the long term, Edwards has front-of-the-rotation potential. He's headed to Double-A for 2014.
The story of Edwards' signing will sound like an apocryphal tale if he one day makes the big leagues. Lightly scouted in high school because he didn't play in high-profile showcases, he fell to the 48th round of the 2011 draft. The Rangers selected him based on the recommendation of area scout Chris Kemp, who had recruited him to play for Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) JC while he served as an assistant coach there. Edwards elected to turn pro for $50,000 at the Aug. 15 signing deadline despite a lack of instruction or feel for pitching. Texas remedied those issues during instructional league and in extended spring training the following year, teaching him to long-toss and to repeat his delivery. The lanky righthander then promptly breezed through the Arizona League in his 2012 pro debut, allowing just six hits and no runs in 20 innings on his way to a promotion to short-season Spokane. In the span of one year, the quick-armed Edwards increased his velocity from the mid-80s to 90-94 mph with a high of 98. He also has developed feel for two secondary pitches. He imparts natural cutting action on the ball because his fingers are offset slightly to the right. Edwards can spin a mid-70s breaking ball and throw an effective changeup with fading action, but he needs to stay on top of all his pitches to get the most out of them. The Rangers rave about his makeup and projection--he could add 25 pounds easily, they say--and they intend to give him every opportunity to win a spot in the Hickory rotation.
Minor League Top Prospects
One year before the Cubs leveraged Jeff Samardzija in a July trade to acquire shortstop prospect Addison Russell from the Athletics, they used Matt Garza to pry Edwards away from the Rangers at the 2013 deadline. Both prospects suited up for Tennessee in the second half of 2014, though not before Edwards missed all of May, June and July after coming down with a shoulder strain. Tall and lean, Edwards has plus life and so much cutting action on a low-90s fastball--he tops out near 95 mph--that batters simply can't square him up. SL opponents hit just .180 against him, and he has allowed just two home runs in 50 career appearances. One scout said that Edwards threw the best curveball in the SL, and it's a plus pitch when he stays on top of the ball. Edwards continues to improve the quality and arm speed on his mid-80s changeup, and the primary long-term concerns for the gangly, long-limbed righthander will stamina, health and coordination of delivery. No one doubts his stuff will play at the top of a rotation.
Traded to the Cubs in the July Matt Garza deal, Edwards was a model of consistency when he was pitching in the Rangers system at Hickory. He held opponents to two runs or fewer in 14 of 18 starts. He didn?t allow any home runs. Edwards touched 97 mph with his fastball, but he was most effective when he was 92-94 while taking advantage of the pitch?s excellent life. His plus curveball is a 12-to-6 hammer that can completely lock up a hitter?s brain. His changeup is clearly his third pitch, but it?s effective already because of the dominance of his other two pitches. Almost all of the concerns about Edwards revolve around his frame. He?s skinny, and several scouts said they don?t believe he?ll add much weight as he matures, which leads to worries about his durability.
Texas' farm system already was loaded without 48th-rounders turning into legit prospects. Edwards lasted until the end of the 2011 draft because he didn't play in any high-profile showcases, but Chris Kemp had recruited him for Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) JC before leaving to become a Rangers area scout. Edwards also ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Arizona League, where he opened the summer with 20 scoreless innings. Edwards has a long, lanky frame and has some looseness and athleticism to his delivery. His fastball sat at 90-95 mph in the NWL and hit 98 mph in the AZL, and it looks even faster with natural late life and deception. He throws an effective breaking ball and is gaining confidence in his changeup. "He was the best pitcher we saw all year," Murphy said. "He's got something to him. The last five feet of his fastball, it's going up like a rocket ship. There's a lot of hop on it."
Lightly scouted in high school, Edwards lasted until the 48th round of the 2011 draft and was headed to junior college before signing for $50,000 at the Aug. 15 signing deadline. He was still pretty raw when he reported to the Rangers' complex in Arizona, and it wasn't until he learned to repeat his delivery during extended spring training this year that he really took off. He pitched 20 scoreless innings in the AZL and continued to excel after a promotion to short-season Spokane. Edwards possesses a fast arm and a good feel for pitching. Though a lot of projection remains in his frame, his fastball already sits at 95-96 mph and peaks at 98, and he maintains his velocity deep into his outings. He locates all of his pitches, including a mid-70s curveball and an effective changeup.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Curveball in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014
- Rated Best Fastball in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014
- Rated Best Curveball in the Chicago Cubs in 2014
- Rated Best Fastball in the Chicago Cubs in 2014