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Chicago Cubs: Where Does CJ Edwards Fit?

Sep 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carl Edwards, Jr. throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Cubs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carl Edwards, Jr. throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Cubs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs are still waiting on Carl Edwards, Jr. to break out as last season was an indicator he’s close. Sent back down because of numbers, how close is he to a return?

Acquired three seasons ago as the centerpiece in the Matt Garza deal along with Justin Grimm and Neil RamirezCarl Edwards, Jr. has been highly touted as the Cubs top pitching prospect.  He finally saw big league time last season in September as part of the team’s September callups. He was not on the postseason roster, however.  Now in 2016, his roster status remains a bit up in the air.

Despite performing admirably this spring, he was already cut and sent back to Triple-A Iowa.  The current speculation is that he will be the first call-up if and when there is an injury in the bullpen.  Edwards does struggle with his control, and the Cubs would like him to try and rectify that before bringing him up to the big leagues full time.  If he can harness his control, he has the potential to be a dominant late inning reliever, perhaps even a closer.

Last season, in 36 appearances, Edwards posted a stellar 2.77 ERA.  He pitched 55.1 innings, and struck out 75, but, he also walked 41 batters, a little under a walk an inning, but it’s clear that the stuff is there for him to be a good major league pitcher for a long time. The front office has always been very high on him, even before the trade.

Edwards story is a bit interesting, as he was drafted in the 48th round out of high school by the Texas Rangers, and passed up college to sign and work his way up through the system.  He was originally drafted as a starter and was absolutely dominant in the lower levels of the minor leagues as a starter.  In fact, it took him almost two full seasons before ever giving up a home run. But his small frame led some to be concerned, and as a result, the Cubs turned him into a reliever where he has still been solid–but control issues are more glaring as a reliever than as a starter.

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The work ethic is there as evidenced by his history. The stuff is there, the potential is there–now it’s just a matter of Edwards bringing it all together.  If he does that, look for him to be a key piece of the Cubs bullpen sometime this year and moving forward.

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