Arizona and Washington are a long way from Prosperity but one young Mid-Carolina graduate is hitting his mark on the West Coast in the big leagues.
C.J. Edwards was a 2011 graduate from Mid-Carolina and while there he played football, baseball and basketball. But he knew his passion and dream was to play professional baseball.
As a child Edwards wanted to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Carl Edwards Sr. and uncles by playing baseball.
He elected to skip college and head to the pros, which allowed him not to risk play stopping injuries in college.
Edwards was a low draft by the Texas Rangers and was sent to play in Surprise, Ariz.
“I knew I would get drafted,” he said. “I did not know where. I have a great chance to be a prospect in the organization.”
This season he was called up mid-year to the team in Spokane, Wash. where he finished the year.
“It happened fast,” said Edwards of his move up the ladder in the Rangers organization, where he is a pitcher.
This season he finished 5-3 over all with an ERA of 1.48.
Edwards also had 85 strikeouts and just 19 walks.
In fact, in July he was named as the club’s pitcher of the month.
But Edwards admits his success has resulted in him growing up quick and that he has had to learn things like how to spend and manage money.
“There is no more momma and dad to get me up,” he adds with a smile.
Edwards says he is just happy to do what he loves even if it meant living in a hotel room from March until June.
While in Washington he lived with a host family but the days were still long.
Edwards starts his day at 8:30 or 9 a.m. with breakfast and then it is to the weight room. From there he runs for 20 minutes and it is on to ball practice. If he is not on time he can be fined.
The group them comes in to get ready for the games which start around 6:35 p.m. and end around 9 p.m.
After the game, it is meeting with the fans and signing loads of autographs.
“We have to be very careful of what we do off the field, too,” said Edwards of the team requirements.
But the long days and the time difference means it is hard for Edwards to call those back home.
On the bright side he says it has been a great experience and he is traveling to different places and meeting new people.
“This is something I love to do. It does not matter my draft number or the money I make,” he said. “It is all about how I play.”
Edwards is currently taking a couple weeks of vacation time, which included getting some sleep, spending time with family and friends and some dental surgery.
But he will return Saturday to play instructional league in Arizona.
In March spring training will start in Arizona.
Edwards is hoping to be transferred to the Hickory Crawdads in North Carolina where he will play teams closer to Prosperity so “all of Newberry County can come see me play.”
He adds he hopes he can continue his success and play on television so the community can boast that Edwards, “came from Mid-Carolina.”
One challenge that Edwards faces, who has been nicknamed as the String Bean Slinger, is that he must gain weight.
Currently he is around 171 pounds and must reach 185 pounds by spring training. But the weight gain combined with lots of exercise on the field and in workouts is hard.
Edwards is now on a 6,000 calorie a day diet.
“Yes, I doubled checked and it is 6,000 calories,” he said.
One of his tools is a shake that includes milk, protein powder, Nutella, peanut butter, Oreo cookies and ice.
He adds the last bit of the mix is hard to get down but he has bought a blender and making the shakes daily.