In a bit of a surprise announcement late last night on Instagram, pitcher C.J. Eldred declared that he will be foregoing his final season at The University of Iowa and has signed a professional contract with the Kansas City Royals.
Eldred made only one start for the Hawkeyes in 2017 before having to shut down his season to have UCL surgery. In that start against Central Florida, the righty went six innings and gave up just one run on three hits. He was then scratched for a couple starts before it was announced he would miss the remainder of the season.
After transferring from Indiana and sitting out a year, Eldred had a pretty strong career at Iowa despite his 3-8 record. He made 17 appearances (14 starts) and over that time, threw to the tune of a 3.32 ERA and paired solid strikeout ability with good command, striking out 67 and walking 25.
In an interview with Dargan Southard of HawkCentral, C.J. Eldred had this to say about his decision:
“I’m sitting there looking at it going, If I were to not take the opportunity that I was given by the Royals, there are no guarantees coming off of a surgery,” Eldred told HawkCentral Tuesday. “Anybody who goes through an arm surgery will tell you some guys come off and they’re back to who they were in their first start. And some guys, it takes them two years.
“With college, I only have one year left. You don’t know if that opportunity to sign professionally is going to be there at the end of next year.”
With the departure of Eldred, Iowa has now lost three pitchers from last year to Major League Baseball. Eldred was expected to be Iowa’s Saturday starter for the season, and ended up being replaced by Ryan Erickson, who was drafted by the White Sox. Friday starter Nick Gallagher also decided to forego his senior year when he was drafted by Cleveland.
With a ton of question marks about the pitching staff already going into 2018, this certainly doesn’t help the Hawks. Eldred was expected to be Iowa’s top starter next year if he came back healthy from surgery, and now the team will be relying heavily on Brady Schanuel, a transfer from Parkland College. Kole Kampen and Nick Allgeyer are also now going to have to step up this season, and after both missed last season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, it’s no guarantee that they’ll be effective early on.
Best of luck to C.J. on the next step in his career, and we hope he has as long a career as his dad, former Hawkeye Cal Eldred.