Do you remember the team of Jackie Robinson West who went to the final of the Little League World Series 2014 in Chicago? Ed Howard was the starting shortstop.
– Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 11, 2020
Although it was particularly difficult to separate players from this project due to the (mainly) lack of a season this year and extremely limited screening, it is also a very deep project in guys that would be justified as the top 20 picks, and Howard. is in this group. He ranked as high as 11 (FanGraphs) and as low as 20 (BA), but most ranked him just around the choice of Cubs. However, this year, it is quite daring to take a high school student, so the Cubs absorb the upside risk here.
The super short version is that Howard is considered a real shortstop, who will stick to it defensively, and could be pretty good. The bat is where you need to buy in the projections and player development. But you take it there, and what about a defensive shortstop with a good bat? It’s a star. And this is the positive side on which you dream.
From FanGraphs on Howard:
Perhaps he would have come out of the blocks of 2020 after already filling up and showing more raw power, but Howard answered the most relevant questions the previous summer when he played against the best high school pitching all summer on the display circuit. This pitch is much better than what Howard would have seen in Illinois this spring. Howard best places the pitches at the bottom of the typing area, and although he has not been tested regularly at the letter level, he has shown flashes of power to either fire those pitches, or pull his hands out and find a way to get the barrel out there, and even to grab that sharp path outside the plate and hit it in the air on its pull side. It’s hard to predict if Howard will be able to withstand the speed of big leagues, but he has a promising hitting sensation and an advanced approach for a batter in cold weather, as well as perhaps the best defensive footwork of any the class. It projects like a shortstop in the league every day.
From the MLB pipeline:
Howard blossomed into the best prospect for his position in the 2020 high school class. He may not have the high cap of Bobby Witt Jr. or CJAbrams, shortstop prep who participated in the six top picks in the 2019 draft, but he’s a stable player who could have solid tools in all areas. He is about to become the first high school position player in Illinois to participate in the first round since Jayson Werth in 1997.
Using a simple right-handed swing and a calm approach, Howard makes repeated hard contacts. It has an impressive bat speed and a 6’2 “projectable frame that continues to add strength, so it can develop medium or better power. He has solid speed and uses it well on the basics.
A soft defender at shortstop, Howard will certainly be able to stay in position. He can do all games with athletic actions, quick hands and a strong arm capable of throwing from a variety of angles. The Oklahoma rookie has a high baseball IQ and a knack for slowing the game on both sides of the ball.
From Keith Law:
Howard is one of the few real shortstops in the high school or college project class, and that alone makes him at least a guy in the first two rounds, while the rise in his bat will likely make him a first tower . Howard is very throwable at 6 feet 2 inches, 185 pounds, and is an above average runner with very good hands, which gives the scouts no doubt that he will stay short term long term. Its bat speed is excellent and it spins well for future power as it fills up. Howard struggled in late summer 2019, and we don’t know if it was due to a sore shoulder or fatigue or just problems with better competition – and he couldn’t play this spring to answer all of that. . In a draft with more polished shortstops, he could slip into the extra round and end up with an upgrade guy, but this year, he seems likely to go somewhere in the back half of the first.
Howard is the best preparation shortstop in a lightweight high school class at the position and the Midwest area scouts should have a good story with him as he played alongside the D- second round pick backs Alek Thomas (2018) as a subclass at Mont Carmel (Ill.) Haute. Howard seduced the scouts as a junior in the Jupiter WWBA Perfect Game tournament, showing a high level ability on both sides of the ball. Although he has an advantage as a batter, the polite part of Howard’s game comes from his glove. He is undoubtedly a shortstop to the next level as a solid athlete with reliable hands and a strong and precise throwing arm. It moves smoothly in the middle of the diamond and has the ability to launch from all angles with excellent body control and a solid internal clock. In the 2020 class, he is the best defender in preparation for this position and has the potential to be a defensive shortstop in the big leagues. The only criticism of his defensive play is that the scouts would like to see better foot speed. He’s a solid runner, but not a burner at all. Scouts will need to plan more on Howard’s attacking play, especially after not seeing him in games this season. It shows all the tools you want to see, with good bat speed, some bat skill and a flexible frame, 6 feet 2 inches and 185 pounds which has plenty of room to add more muscle and impact capacity. Right now, he’s more of a line drive type hitter, but the scouts want him to fine-tune his approach. He did a good job of progressing through the summer of 2019 and showing that he can make adjustments, but the teams are still waiting for him to put everything back in place. Although he is attached to Oklahoma, it is rare that the first high school shortstop does not pass in the first round, and a team which buys to its advantage could jump on it in the middle or behind the first tower.
And a video for your enjoyment:
Ed Howard (@ehowardIV) launch a last minute reminder for teams interested in its IG history ??
He is our highest ranked SS entering the draft.
Full screening report: https: //t.co/oh6IjNQnkB pic.twitter.com/3TOMHEdm2w
– Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 10, 2020
Much, much more to come on Howard.