Garza trade bait makes name for himself in minors

Posted Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Elsewhere on the farm Triple A Round Rock: In his first 10 games with the Express, Manny Ramirez was batting .270 with three home runs and six RBIs. … Mike Olt has yet to get going at the plate since returning from vision issues earlier this season. Going into Saturday, he was batting .200 with three RBIs over his past 16 games. Double A Frisco: Neil Ramirez started for the first time in two weeks Friday, allowing five runs on seven hits over 31/3 innings. He is 9-3 with a 3.68 ERA over 18 starts. … Reliever Kyle McClellan has allowed one run over four outings since accepting an assignment with the Rough Riders earlier this month. High A Myrtle Beach: Right-hander Luke Jackson is 8-4 with a 2.55 ERA over 17 starts. … Since the Carolina League All-Star break, infielder Rougned Odor is batting .369 with 12 doubles, 21 RBIs and 19 runs. Short A Spokane: Chi Chi Gonzalez, the Rangers’ top draft pick this year, is 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA over his first seven professional starts. … Catcher Joe Jackson, another 2013 draft pick, is batting .208 over his first eight games with the Indians.

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C.J. Edwards heard the trade rumors Friday.

He was supposed to be sent as part of the Rangers’ package in a deal for Cubs starter Matt Garza.

It hasn’t happened … yet. Edwards doesn’t know if or when it will happen, but he is taking it all in stride. Being linked as a return piece for someone who is considered one of the top trade targets on the market can be viewed as somewhat of an honor, especially considering Edwards was a 48th-round draft pick in 2011.

“It’s rewarding, but some teammates are a little bit down because I really enjoy playing with these guys,” Edwards said.

“Half of these guys were my teammates last year [with the Arizona Rookie League Rangers] when we won the championship. But baseball is a business and you just have to stay positive.”

The 21-year-old Edwards’ rise in the Rangers’ farm system has been remarkable. He was selected out of Mid-Carolina High School in South Carolina.

Edwards immediately shined when he began playing last year in the rookie league, going 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA over four games, including three starts. He struck out 25 and walked six over 20 innings and was promoted to Short A Spokane.

At Spokane, Edwards went 2-3 with a 2.11 ERA over 10 starts. He had 60 strikeouts over 47 innings.

That first season put Edwards on the map, and he’s carried his success into this season.

He’s 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA over 18 starts with Class A Hickory. He has 122 strikeouts and 34 walks over 931/3 innings, including throwing 52/3 scoreless innings in his last start on Wednesday.

Most remarkable, however, might be that Edwards has not allowed a home run as a professional. He’s thrown 1601/3 innings without giving up a long ball.

“Outstanding competitor, very coachable,” said Tim Purpura, the Rangers’ senior director of player development. “Works hard and takes his bullpen sessions seriously and is able to take those sessions and implement what he learns into the game.

“Tremendous kid. Real leader type at a young age.”

Edwards has a long, loose and easy arm action and throws a fastball that sits in the 90-94 mph range. He also throws a curveball and changeup, and works well down in the strike zone.

Edwards said he can throw his curveball two ways, something he learned from his dad, Carl.

As with all prospects, though, the wiry Edwards has room to grow on the field and physically.

The Rangers would like to see him pitch more to contact to limit his pitch count per inning, which would allow him to go deeper in games.

Edwards is also trying to add weight to his 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame.

Pitching to contact is something that Edwards admits he has worked on, but says he’s a strikeout pitcher by nature.

“There’s a little give and take, and I’m not trying to sound cocky,” Edwards said. “If I get to a 1-2 or 0-2 count, I’m going for a strikeout. If it gets deeper in the count, I’ll try my best to pitch to contact.”

As far as putting on more weight, Edwards said it will come with time. For now, though, he’s been a remarkable story for the Rangers, going from a 48th-rounder to a legitimate prospect.

Only time will tell if he fully develops into a big league pitcher, and if it’s in a Rangers uniform.

“I’m not surprised where I’ve come from,” Edwards said. “I knew if I could get my foot in the door, I could make the most of my opportunity.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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