Derek Johnson first saw C.J. Edwards at a tournament on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus, proof that the best pitching prospect in the Cubs organization didn’t come out of nowhere.

This was a few years ago, when the Cubs pitching coordinator worked as a Vanderbilt assistant. Long before Theo Epstein’s front office studied the Texas Rangers system and made Edwards the centerpiece in the Matt Garza trade, Johnson noticed the lanky kid throwing 85-86 mph.

“It was like a no-name summer-league team,” Johnson recalled Tuesday at Cubs Park. “There was about 10 people there and I was one of them.

“I think I put an Oil Can Boyd on him. It was kind of that feel to me. This guy’s got real long levers and is kind of loose. Maybe he doesn’t know exactly what he’s doing yet. He might have a chance to be pretty good.

“I obviously had no idea that he was even remotely as good as what he’s turned out to be.”

No one thought Edwards would be the next big thing. Johnson made a follow-up call, but Vanderbilt didn’t offer a scholarship. Edwards dropped to the Rangers in the 48th round of the 2011 draft and got a $50,000 signing bonus.