Edwards: In the next 2-3 years, the Cubs will win a pennant

Edwards: In the next 2-3 years, the Cubs will win a pennant
April 15, 2014, 10:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

C.J. Edwards isn't taking anything for granted.

The Cubs' top pitching prospect doesn't have any grand delusions of being called up to pitch at Wrigley Field next week. He isn't chalking it up as a guarantee that he will make the big leagues or even stick as a starting pitcher.

But there is one thing Edwards is sure about: The Cubs will win a pennant in the next couple of seasons.

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In the Cubs organization, winning is all Edwards knows after helping lead Advanced Class-A Daytona to a championship last season.

The 22-year-old pitcher was the vital piece to the Matt Garza deal with the Rangers last year, and Edwards understands there are high expectations for him. But he knows he can't do it all alone.

"You can't look past the other starters," Edwards said in an interview with Tennessee Smokies broadcaster Mick Gillispie. "They say I'll be a big key, but I look at it as the Corey Blacks, Ivan Pineyros, the Pierce Johnsons and the Triple-A guys — Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch — those guys are really going to be a big part, too.

"We'll never know how we'll look in the big leagues. I can go from being a starter to a reliever or it can be vice versa. As I look at those guys and the hitters we have, as I tell everybody, in the next two to three years, we're winning a pennant."

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The Rangers made Edwards a 48th-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft and he hit the ground running. In his first two seasons in professional baseball, Edwards was dominant, posting a 1.72 ERA with 240 strikeouts and just one homer allowed in 183.1 innings.

Experts have doubts about his build (6-foot-2, 155-pound), but Edwards has picked up right where he left off, with a 2.45 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in three starts with Double-A Tennessee this year.

Edwards, ranked as the No. 28 prospect in the game by Baseball America, is part of a star-studded Smokies roster that also includes slugger Kris Bryant (BA's No. 8 prospect), pitcher Johnson (87) and Jorge Soler (41), who is currently on the disabled list. With Albert Almora in Daytona and Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara in Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs have a nice stable of young position player prospects, but guys like Edwards and Johnson may be the most important players to the team's rebuild given the organization's lack of pitching prospects.

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The Cubs won't rush Edwards to the big leagues, but with the level of dominance he's shown so far, the question is starting to carry some weight: How long until he gets the call to The Show?

"Everybody can say [I'm ready] now, but I look at it as I still have to mature more. Just on the mound, not off the field," Edwards told Gillispie. "One thing I feel I need to work on is pitch sequence. I have [the pitches], I just need to execute them.

"I'm executing now, but I want to get to the level where the catcher throws me the ball and I know exactly what I'm throwing.

"You keep working and you never know what can happen up there."