ST. LOUIS – Right-hander Carl (C.J.) Edwards Jr., the 48th-round draft pick who became the key prospect acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Matt Garza trade two years ago, pitched a scoreless eighth in his big-league debut Monday.
“It’s pretty mind-blowing,” said Edwards, who arrived about game time and was counseled briefly by bullpen mates, including Pedro Strop, before debuting. “That took some wind out of me so I could actually breathe and look around and have some confidence going out there.”
Edwards, a first-round talent off most teams’ scouting grids coming out of small-town Mid-Carolina High School, is the Cubs’ top-ranked pitching prospect after dominating minor-league hitters much of his professional career.
“I just wanted an opportunity,” said Edwards, who walked the first batter he faced, then got Tommy Pham to ground into a double play, followed by Peter Bourjos grounding to second.
He said the highlight was seeing his parents, Carl and Faith, in the stands, along with his brother. His parents had never flown before Monday.
He tipped his cap to them as he walked off the mound.
“I got my foot in the door, and it’s all up to me now to dictate what my future holds in this game,” said Edwards, a fastball-curve ball pitcher who converted to relief this season and had a 2.77 ERA in 36 appearances across two levels. He struck out 75 in 55 1/3 innings but also walked 41.
“I’ve been asking about him all year, because he’s the kind of a kid that can be a very good major-league pitcher,” Maddon said. “The biggest thing is just how quickly he adapts emotionally to the whole thing.”
Maddon said he plans to ease Edwards into low-leverage situations and make the call on higher leverage chances after that.
“If it happens, it happens,” Maddon said. “But he’s that kind of a talent that can be impactful now going into October.
“It plays. It definitely plays. It’s all there.”
Edwards, who turned 24 last week, said it was “a great way to come into this league to face one of the best teams in baseball – or the best team in baseball right now.”
Regardless, “I can truly say I have accomplished getting here like I said I wanted to,” he said. “Now just to help the team win is my biggest thing.”
The Cubs acquired Edwards from Texas, along with third baseman Mike Olt and right-handers Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez on July 23, 2013, for Garza, the veteran right-hander.