Royals AAA reliever Andrew Edwards could be a surprise contributor in Kansas City in 2017. While his numbers weren’t impressive, he’s got a big fastball and hard slider.
Most Kansas City Royals fans are already familiar with many of the prospects that could help as rookies in 2017. Hunter Dozier could hit his way into a DH/OF role. Oft injured pitcher Kyle Zimmer could emerge if his thoracic outlet surgery solves his constant injury issues. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio could take his game up a notch. AA pitcher Alec Mills already made his debut in Kansas City last year. Jake Junis could also find his way into the pen.
But, most fans don’t have a clue about 25-year-old Andrew Edwards.
That’s a name to stick in the back of your mind, because he’s likely to appear in Kansas City this season. With a little luck, and some improved command, he could play a major role in the bullpen.
The KC Royals took Andrew Edwards in the 19th round of the 2013 draft. At the time, he was a 6’6″ 265 pound right-handed pitcher from Western Kentucky who threw around 92-94 mph. As a twenty-two year old, he was hardly a hot prospect. But, his big frame gave scouts hope he still possessed some upside.
Edwards Now Sports An Electric Fastball
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Three years later, Edwards fastball now sits between 94-96 mph and can touch 99. Scouts consider it a 70 grade pitch on the 20-80 scale. Velocity isn’t its best attribute. Edwards’ heater both sinks and tails, making it difficult for hitters to make solid contact. He also sports a hard slider that hits the high 80’s. At times he attempts to throw a change-up, but that pitch is only marginally effective.
Still, Edwards overwhelmed AA NW Arkansas in the first month of 2016 with a 0.50 ERA. He earned a quick promotion to AAA Omaha, but only recorded a 0-1 record, with a 5.40 ERA and a 10.6 K/9. His problem is he lacks command and struggles with left-handed hitters.
Much of his command issues can be traced to his problems with repeating his delivery. Thus, a small tweak could possibly push him over the top. The stuff is there for Edwards to succeed as a premium set-up man if his command improves or else his change-up progresses to the point where he can handle left-handed hitters.
Looking through his game logs, I found that he gave up 10 out of his 26 earned runs at AAA in two five-run outings. Those bad performances inflated his ERA to a high 5.40. However, he regularly misses bats and has the raw stuff to retire major-league hitters with a little refinement.
The Kansas City Royals front office probably isn’t COUNTING on Andrew Edwards taking on a big role in 2017. But, don’t be surprised if it happens.