Cubs' Edwards returns to Double-A action
It's been a long season for C.J. Edwards, but with three words, the Cubs' top pitching prospect announced he's looking forward to August in the Southern League.
"Finally, I'm back," Edwards said.
The 22-year-old right-hander, MLB.com's No. 60 overall prospect , gave up a run on two hits and two walks while striking out five over 3 1/3 innings on Saturday night in Double-A Tennessee's 2-1 loss to Pensacola.
For Edwards, the outing was about more than the results.
"It felt real good," he said. "I think I was both nervous and excited. I've been out like four months now, so I've just got to get back into my rhythm pitching."
Edwards was diagnosed with a minor strain and fatigue in his throwing shoulder in late April after making four starts for the Smokies. He spent the bulk of the summer recuperating and rehabbing at the Cubs' facilities in Arizona and pitched 5 2/3 innings over two outings in the Rookie-level Arizona League, one on July 23 and another on July 28.
He admitted to feeling a little stir crazy while he was relegated to limited baseball activities.
"I did, but I didn't let that stop me from working hard to get back here," he said.
Now that he's back in action, he knows what he wants out of the rest of the season.
"Pretty much just getting back out there and having regular outings, getting back to my timing, back into a rhythm," he said, adding that the most important thing is to "continue to stay healthy and continue to figure things out.
"I just want to get back to my normal self before the season ends, go into the offseason feeling comfortable, like I actually had a good season. I don't want to say, 'Whoa, I sat out four months and then had kind of a sluggish last month.'"
Saturday's outing was a step in the right direction. He walked the Blue Wahoos' Bryson Smith to start the game but erased him with a double play off the bat of Brodie Green, then notched a strikeout.
The Cubs' sixth-ranked prospect shrugged off Ray Chang's leadoff double in the second and struck out two in the third. Chris Berset started the fourth with another double, but Edwards fanned Chang on his 61st and final pitch. He was charged with a run when Berset scored on Seth Mejias-Brean's triple off reliever Jeff Lorick.
"It was smooth," Edwards said of his start. "I came in a little quick and anxious sometimes. All my pitches were there. I felt good throwing the fastball, curve and the changeup -- they were all there.
"I was maybe a little anxious in my windup. I couldn't get comfortable or settle in quick enough against certain batters and I fell behind. But it was only my first game back. It's going to take some time, maybe another couple starts, before I can feel all the way settled in."
The Smokies have a new shortstop since Edwards headed to Arizona, as the Cubs added Addison Russell in a July 4 trade with Oakland. Edwards, who came to Chicago from the Texas organization in the July 2013 trade for Matt Garza, is excited about pitching with Russell's glove behind him and bat in the lineup.
"On my first day back here, I came over and introduced myself, and seeing him and the rest of the guys here go about their business, you can tell we are focused on one thing and one thing only," Edwards said. "I'm excited to have him [in the system]. He's going to be big, anybody can see that. He's going to be real big for this organization."
Russell singled in four plate appearances Saturday and is batting .378 over his last 10 games with the Smokies.
Sixteenth-ranked Reds prospect Jon Moscot (6-10) earned the win for Pensacola, allowing a run on five hits and four walks while striking out five over six innings. he ranks sixth in the league with a 3.30 ERA.
Josh Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com.