Matt Harvey was selected by the New York Mets in the first round of the 2010 draft, one of the most heralded pitching prospects in the game. Scouts often traveled to North Carolina to watch Harvey pitch as he developed into a scouting director's dream. Harvey reached the big leagues this summer with much fanfare.
But the Mets had their eye on another pitcher that year as well. Few teams bothered to scout left-hander Josh Edgin, who was prepared to return to school that autumn, receive his degree and head out into the real world with a regular job.
Plans changed when the Mets drafted Edgin in the 30th round, 902nd overall. The team offered him a signing bonus of less than $2,000, and Edgin instantly accepted. If it wasn't a realistic route to the big leagues, at least it was work. A temporary diversion.
Then something funny happened along the way. Edgin, as he did throughout high school and college, kept mowing down batters. He rocketed through the minor leagues. When several relief pitchers suffered through injuries this spring, Edgin earned a belated invitation to big-league camp. He nearly made the club out of spring training. Then he went down and dominated in the minors, making it to the majors barely two years after signing.
Now, with Tim Byrdak landing on the disabled list over the weekend, Edgin is the team's only left-handed reliever. He has certainly proved to be a good one, posting a 2.25 ERA over his first 12 appearances with 19 strikeouts in 12 innings. Edgin has not allowed a run over his last nine outings, most recently firing two shutout innings of relief against the Padres.
"I'm still not as comfortable as I want to be, but I'm getting there," Edgin said. "The older guys in the bullpen have definitely helped calm me down a little bit. I just try to relax and do what I know I can do."
With respect to Harvey, Edgin attacks hitters with a nasty arsenal of his own. Against left-handed hitters, he relies on a mid-90s fastball and a low-80s slider. Against righties, he mixes in a sinker and a changeup, making him more than a typical left-handed specialist.
The Mets see him as a critical part of the future of their bullpen. Far younger and cheaper than Byrdak and under team control for the next six years, Edgin could develop into the team's next Pedro Feliciano, one of the league's most reliable lefty relievers for years.
Because of that, the Mets plan to be careful with Edgin throughout the rest of this summer. With Byrdak on the DL, they do not want to rely on their only lefty too heavily and are even considering calling up another left-handed reliever to ease Edgin's workload.
But they are also curious to see what Edgin can do with his new, expanded role. The silver lining of Byrdak's injury, manager Terry Collins said, is that it will give the team an extended look at Edgin in some of the club's most pressure-packed spots. With runners on base and a left-handed slugger at the plate in the later innings, Edgin will be the Mets' top option for at least the next two weeks.
"Now he's the sole guy down there at this particular moment," Collins said. "We've got to be careful that we don't overdo it with him."
That is easier said than done when Edgin is giving the Mets nothing but strong performances.
"I feel like I have the stuff that I can stay here," Edgin said. "It's just executing and making a pitch."