Tale of the Tape
|Name||Ed Howard IV|
|Age at Draft||18|
|High School||Mount Carmel H.S. (Chicago, IL)|
|Baseball America Rank||No. 20|
Ed Howard’s biggest strength — and this is not to take away from his bat — is his glove. Howard isn’t the typical athletic high school infielder, who might or might not stick at shortstop as he makes his way through the system. He’s a no-doubt shortstop, plain and simple.
The six-foot-two, 185-pounder possesses smooth hands with an arm that’s equally strong and accurate. With tons of athleticism and fluidity, he can make throws from all over the position, and usually shows a calm control over his process. He doesn’t panic, or rush on the balls that take him deep in the hole or turn him away from first base.
He’s probably the best defender at the shortstop position in the draft, and he’ll be able to do it at the next level.
Like I said at the onset of this section, the complement of his plus glove shouldn’t take away from his hitting marks at all.
Howard is a gap-to-gap hitter, with plenty of potential at the plate. As you can see in the video above, he has a tendency to offer at pitches down or below the zone, which will create some ground ball issues, but he’s got great bat-to-ball skills and has shown the ability to develop his game at the plate.
He looks very refined for a prep bat, but he has plenty of room to continue that refinement at the next level.
At 6-2, 185-pounds, Howard has room to bulk up, but what prep infielder doesn’t.
Howard was clocked at 6.76 (60-YD), and 4.19 (H-1ST) at the Perfect Game Nationals this past June in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s not slow by any means — his 6.76 60-yard dash places him at the 60-grade according to Baseball America — but he’s not blazing-fast for a shortstop, and he could use some added foot speed to really round-out what is already a near-perfect defensive game.
Tim Anderson is locked up on the Southside through at least 2022, with club options for 2034/2024, at a ridiculously team-friendly price. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t look to find his replacement, especially the way players move around the league in this day-and-age.
This is just what good front offices do. They constantly insulate their major league club with the next wave of talent ready in their system.
Don’t have a meltdown, I’m as big a Tim Anderson fan as anyone. Howard is 18, and he’ll require at least a few years in the system to refine his bat. With the bulk of the core either in Chicago, or in the wings at Charlotte, I have zero issue with the White Sox taking Howard — or any other high-upside prep prospect — here.
At some point, either Tim Anderson’s glove is never going to improve, or he’s going to be a very attractive player to other teams. Then there will be a need to fill, it’s just the nature of the beast.
I’ve seen Howard go as early as 15 (Phillies), and as late as 29 (Dodgers) in various mocks as of Saturday morning.
Ultimately, I love the idea of taking high-upside prep bats, and I don’t think there’s much of a question that Howard will be there at 11, but I think the White Sox will look to fill their most glaring need in the system — left-handed pitching — at No.11.
The probability here is probably low, unless all three of the southpaws — Garrett Crochet, Reid Detmers, and Asa Lacy — pegged for the front-half of the first round have already been taken.
A refined prep hitter with plus bat speed and a nice compact swing to compliment the best glove in the draft at his position, topped off with speed that’s nothing to scoff at. It’s clear to see why he’s the top shortstop in the 2020 draft class, and he’ll likely be gone in the middle-late first round, if not earlier.
Also, to be clear, Nick Gonzales of New Mexico State is higher than Howard (top-10) on many big boards, but I still think Howard is your top shortstop in the class. Gonzales played his first two years at New Mexico State at second base, only sliding over to short for showcase purposes. He’s nowhere near the natural at shortstop that Howard is.
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