Cubs select Ed Howard with 16th pick

Ed Howard

Ed Howard

The first round of the first draft for new Cubs VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz couldn’t have unfolded any better. He got his guy.

“I think it’s reasonable to expect the other local team to be in on Ed as much as we were. But I would say with every pick after the ninth or 10th pick, we’re taking deep breaths, hoping that he was going to get to us,” Kantrovitz said after the completion of the first round last night.

A smooth defender with soft hands, quick actions around the second base bag, and the range (and arm) to make plays deep in the hole; You won’t find many scouts who question whether Howard can stick at shortstop long term. It seems to be a foregone conclusion to most. His body and athletic profile both point to a player that should retain his range and flexibility throughout his pro career.

While his defense is often mentioned first, don’t sleep on his upside at the plate. His hands are quick and strong. We’re not talking Javy Baez level bat speed, but its well above average and perhaps even plus. Howard possessed wiry strength last summer, and was considered a line drive hitter with only projectable power, but he’s now beginning to fill out his 6’2″ frame. He added 15 pounds of good muscle since then and I think the power may be developed quicker than some scouting reports indicate. You can see in the video below from last season the way he’s capable of whipping the bat through the zone.

When doing my initial evaluation I considered him as a 15-home run type upside guy, but the more I watch, and the more I see of how his body is developing in recent videos in combination with the bat speed and hand strength I saw last year, I now think there may be more. Depending on how his swing develops and what type of launch angle profile he ultimately settles into 20+ home run power is very possible. The Cubs succesfully (and quickly) managed to tweak the swings of recent high draft picks Nico Hoerner and Brennan Davis in order to better utilize their skills. I expect similar results with Howard, who is as good of an athlete, and also is lauded for the same type of work ethic as Hoerner and Davis.

Howard’s bat speed and hand strength should allow for plenty of barrel control and contact ability. His hit tool may fall a bit short of Hoerner, but it could end up being close. The most pressing question becomes what his pitch recognition and plate discipline will look like against top competition. We’ve seen this be a challenge for not just Hoerner, but Albert Almora as well. Being able to adjust and make contact is one thing. Making sure you swing at the right pitch is what separates the ones who make an impact versus the ones that get stuck in part time roles.

Howard has had less exposure against high level competition coming from a cold weather state, which also meant he was unable to showcase himself this spring as the Illinois high school season was cancelled before it began. I think a lot of the scouts from national publications are cautious in their evaluation of his offensive upside simply because they’ve seen him less (and not for some time). But it also means Howard hasn’t had the same exposure to elite velocity and offspeed stuff as other top prospects in the draft. He could have provided more certainty in that regard had he been able to play this spring, but for now, it remains an open question.


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  • Sometimes, the more I dig into a player my team has just drafted, the less excited I get. My reaction to Ed Howard is the exact opposite. I become more and more of a believer in his offensive upside with each video I watch.

  • Love the pick. I'm in agreement with Michael. The more and more I keep digging into who Ed Howard is, the more excited I am.

  • Ed Howard wasn’t “my guy” but he looks solid and the consensus by scouts seems to confirm it. I look forward to his development.

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    I didn't have a pick. My fear was, that Theo was pandering. I don t know that, so I will hope Howard is special. He looks ok and I like his attitude. I'm on board.

  • I came into this draft wondering whether the cubs would finally use a premium pick on a pitcher. New VP of scouting Dan Kantrovitz has a history going back to St. Louis of being a strong evaluator of amateur pitchers, and the Cardinals organization typically selects pitchers in the 1st round. As the draft unfolded and the top 5 pitchers were off the board, then I started to feel like the BPA were mostly positional players besides perhaps Mick Abel (who was projected to the cubs by some draft guys). Once Abel was selected 1 spot before the cubs pick at 16 I really felt like most of the top pitchers were off the board, and taking any other pitcher could be considered a reach. Ed Howard was on my short list of guys that I wanted at that point in the draft, as one of the highest upside players still available IMO.

    I know it's not a pitcher but I think taking a somewhat raw but really high upside prospect like Howard still displays a change in the cubs draft philosophy. I think he's a somewhat risky pick in the sense that he wasn't exposed to the highest level of competition like many high school prospects. He'll have to prove that he can handle the type of breaking stuff that he'll see at the big league level. It's no secret amongst scouts that he's a really good defensive player, and he's also a good athlete that profiles as a plus baserunner (not necessarily a burner though). He'll go as far as his bat takes him but I think there's really high upside and a lot of projection there. He's a strong kid that's still growing into his frame with very good bat speed and good hands. I think he has the upside to hit for average with a fairly disciplined approach with 20-25+ home run power. That's certainly an optimistic prediction, but keep in mind this kids a really good SS and a plus on the basepaths. That's a really good all around player, and I don't think the more popular Garrett Mitchell has the overall hitting upside that Howard does (don't see Mitchell ever hitting 20 home runs). I think best case scenario some good comparisons are Barry Larkin, Jimmy Rollins, a little Andrew Mccutchen, and an alternate world version of Addison Russell that actually has his head on straight lol. At pick 16 I wanted to see the cubs aim for greatness, and I think Howard has that potential. Let's be patient with him though folks he has much more development at the plate in front of him compared to the top college hitters the cubs have taken in past drafts.

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    I do agree with Michael that the more I read about him the more I like him. We won with defense in 2016 and if we can get a plus SS defender that only helps us--as we can see with Javy now. He probably won't see the majors for maybe 3 years, and by that time maybe Javy slides over to 3rd or 2nd and we would have a plus defensive infield. We are also expected to sign the #1 IFA Christian Hernandez, a 16yr old SS. Let's get some power arms and possibly sign a lead off hitter and CF today.
    I also like signing a local prospect when we can too, and I don't know if it had anything to do with it, but Theo has hoped for more African American players not only for the Cubs but it MLB as a whole. He and Tim Anderson could have an effect on young black athletes in Chicago to look at baseball as a sport to play.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    And Jon I just want to reiterate that despite my concerns about Garrett Mitchell I do respect your draft opinion, and know that you're well informed when it comes to minor league/draft talk. I recall you astutely wondering whether the cubs should've taken Xavier Edwards in the 2018 draft, and he's looking like a promising young prospect thus far. I've personally just never been one to fall in love with one draft prospect. In general I support whoever the cubs pick, unless I consider the pick to be a major reach or I just may really dislike a particular prospect for whatever reason.

    I wasn't aware though that the cubs were expected to sign Christian Hernandez. Theo is really loading up the system with up the middle talent. I personally feel like Nico Hoerner isn't an ideal SS defensively with his lack of arm strength, and would fit better at 2B. For that reason I originally didn't really see the cubs as being as deep at SS in their system as some seem to think. But assuming they sign Hernandez then suddenly they really have a number of interesting SS prospects that are far away from the majors. Some may worry that we have too many Shortstops. But SS is a premium position and to me that's a great problem to have. Either way too there's no guarantees with these kids that are so far away from the big leagues.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    K, thanks for the compliment. I've always loved to dig deep into prospects before the drafts (all the drafts) and I look at mock drafts for months before the actual drafts. Maybe because we didn't have good Cubs teams I would look ahead.
    So we'll see what I can do about seeing who I think the Cubs will choose in the 2nd round. It's between Jared Kelley (he can hit 100 with his FB) or Masyn Winn, a HS athlete. Damn, the WS just drafted Kelley--another flame thrower to go along with their 1st round pick.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    White sox getting Kelley with their 2nd pick has officially ruined this draft for me lol. Steal hope he doesn't sign with them

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Well, the Cards just picked my guy Masyn Winn. A combo SS and pitcher.
    So the Cubs picked a hard-throwing left handed reliever. With Jensen from last year, I still don't know if he's a reliever or starter, the Cubs are starting to build up their system with talented players.

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Ooh, don’t look Jonathan. Winn went to the Cards.

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    In reply to John Winter:

    I know!!!!

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jonathan who do you like in the third round?

  • Burl Carraway LHP goes to the cubs with the 51st pick. He was ranked #49 by, and it will be interesting to compare him to JT Ginn who was ranked 44. I like that they were able to add a hard throwing pitcher. His fastball got a 60 grade by and ranges from 93-96 (up to 98). I don't know if he'll pan out. But nice to see the cubs draft a hard thrower in the 2nd round for a change. In the past it seemed like they drafted a lot of 2nd round pitchers that didn't even have impressive velocity for whatever reason.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Burk Carraway is a Billy Wagner doppelgänger. I hope he has an even better career.

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    In reply to IVYADDICT:

    I thought that Wagner should be in he HOF. His numbers were worthy. His WHIP was 0.998, 11.9 SO/9 innings and had 422 saves.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Sounds like most scouts are resigned to him being exclusively a reliever. I typically like a guy with a bit more positional upside at 51, but most sites at least have this kid as the best relief prospect in the draft. He’s also expected to be one of the fastest rising prospects, and is expected to be Mlb ready quickly. As long as he becomes an effective reliever then I don’t mind the pick. I do feel better with Kantrovitz evaluation of amateur pitchers vs McLeod.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    He has an absolutely nasty wicked curveball. Has had struck out over 50% of LHB in his career.

    This is a great pick and he will be a dominant closer or at least back-end arm.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Good to hear Rbucato I know you're a commenter that also follows the draft closely over the years. Looking at his scouting report he got a 65 grade on his curve, which is an even better grade then his fastball (60). I was just looking at his tape, and I can imagine that his arm angle must be really tough on opposing lefties. I hope he pans out and is able to contribute soon as advertised. The cubs organization has struggled to even develop relievers in their system, and I think Jensen and this kid profile as high end relievers (if Jensen can't stick as a starter).

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yes, I love the Carraway pick

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I think the bullpen will be getting a whole lot better. Can’t wait, for a lot of reasons.

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    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Carraway was one of the pitchers I was hoping for before the draft, I loved Leiter's take on him when mlb did their pitchers sequence before the draft, I sort of wish the cubs could have taken a starter in the first round, But I think Kelley would have wanted more to sign than the cubs could afford, I still think Bitsco is going to be the top HS starter of this group.

  • Scouting report says a mid 90s fastball and power curve. Also substantial control problems. Sounds like a left handed match for Dillon Maples.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    What if we learn that Dillon Maples should have been left handed all along

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    I just saw the Cubs pick and have no compaint about it. He has tools and the size too. He did hit leadoff for Michigan, but he's 6'3 225 and that's a big TOO (top of the order) player but KB is ours so why not?
    I saw that the Dodgers selected Jake Vogel a few picks later. He's listed anywhere between 5'11-6'1". He has plus plus speed, plays CF and leads off, and makes good contact. Sounds good to me. Everyone now gives 60 yd time. Our guys run about 6.76 or so, he is 6.15. That's plus plus speed.
    I'm putting my faith in Dan K and his scouting ability. We have 2 rounds left.

  • Luke Little, LH pitcher that throws 105? Wow

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    In reply to Cubpack:

    When I saw your comment my first thought was of Sidd Finch--he threw 168 mph and was highlighted in a Sports Illustrated article. Of course, it was on April 1, but many took it as real.
    How can we ever complain about a pitcher that is that tall and throws that hard? I can't imagine standing in the box and waiting for that dot to come to me.
    So far we have 1 plus defender, one power OF, and 2 pitchers who throw an average over 95 mph. Not one of the past pitchers we've drafted with a slow FB but a plus curve--nothing wrong with that, but they haven't been developed. I'd rather start with a FB that smokes and then try and develop control and other pitches.
    Dan K, you've done well in the last 2 days.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    It may be the fact sports has been on a very long hiatus, but this Cubs draft has me euphoric. Good job indeed.

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    The Cubs chose a NC HS pitcher in the 5 th round. He’s Koen Moreno and throws up to 93 but has gained some velocity in the last year or two. He’s still young so could add velocity and I couldn’t find out much more about him.

  • This whole 5 rounds feels like an old Tim Wilken draft rather than a Jason Mcleod draft. Kantrovitz definitely put his spin on this.

    I honestly didn’t think Ed Howard was a possibility because of the Cubs penchant for College bats & arms. So I am delighted. You can’t teach his hand speed & hip torque. I love the Carraway selection. Ngowu’s current swing is a lot like Glenallen Hill’s from the yellow building home run days. Great Athlete. If he can sync up his lower half to those hands, he could be really fun. The new Power Arm Cubs get Little to go with Max Bain & Mike McAvene. That should be fun watching hitters duck out like John Kruk. Moreno is interesting. It seems like a few teams took project types early so they didn’t get into bidding wars. Great athlete who hasn’t focused on baseball fully but has enough skills to entice. Fun times.

  • In reply to Gator:

    Yes, I had the same thought. Much more emphasis on athleticism, velo and upside. The McLeod drafts were really, really good at getting guys that made the upper levels, almost none of their prime targets got hurt or flamed out in the lower levels, but we've obviously not gotten enough guys who could breakthrough from AAA to MLB. Wilken/Hendry would definitely whiff more on guys that would flame out in A/A+, but there was also more Samardjiza's and others that would make an impact.

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    In reply to Gator:

    The only time Wilken had a good draft was his last year, I believe Hendry had more to do with that draft than Wilken. Did you forget the Hayden Simpson draft or Cunningham draft , there were many that were head scratchers from his drafts.

  • After reviewing the draft I have mixed feelings. I am less than excited for the 2 bats and over the top excited for the pitchers.

    So the bats will probably be All Stars and the arms will never see the major leagues. Haha!!!

    The potential and upside of the arms is, IMO, what a draft should feel like. Had Dan K been in charge I am certain we would have Nate Pearson instead of Brandon Little. He is drafting big fastballs and athletic guys.

    I am really excited for Moreno. He is super athletic and already has 3 pitches. As he grows into his body he will be able to add some velocity. He is the perfect 3-4 year development type who goes from his 90-92 to a 95+ guy. Already spins a very nice CB and developed a tumbling change. This is a terrific value pick.

    The new Little is clearly project. You can’t teach 6’8” or 105. He will be in the lab developing his repertoire. He needs that consistent slider and then he is a devastating weapon. If he sits 96-98 his perceived velocity will be over 100 given his ability to release the ball closer to the plate given his height. This is a high upside arm.

    Nice draft and can’t wait to see these 5 guys get going.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    So since there is no minors this year, what do the Cubs do with these 5 guys, and who ever else they sign, this year? Can they go to the Cubs facilities in AZ just to work out? Can they use the pitch lab? Can the trainers, coaches, and nutrition guys talk to them?

  • In reply to John57:

    Carraway could have a shot to be included in the 50 guys they bring to the restarted spring training. He might end up a taxi squad guy late in the season. The rest will go to AZ to work in the pitch and hit labs and then participate in whatever fall league or instructs occur.

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    In reply to rbrucato:

    First draft I totally agree with, don't know if there are any HS kids who might jump at 20 K to get started in professional ball ,but here's hoping for a few long shots.....

  • In reply to tater:

    There will be some college guys too that are done in school who have nothing to do. But I would guess the top HS guys will go to college in hopes of going high in a subsequent year to get the big signing bonus.

  • I really hope the Cubs & Sox managements take advantage of their proximity & schedule Joint practices / scrimmages together often to just get game experience together for the lower level guys.

    What would be cool is to schedule those “exhibitions” at the Chicago Dogs stadium or even at local colleges, junior colleges & high schools in the region. They have a real opportunity to grow & market the game at a very personal level that would pay dividends for the future. Imagine a series of scrimmages with some fan interaction after the game.

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