Ed Howard has the potential to be something straight out of a movie. The final first-round pick of the Theo Epstein era, Howard is a hometown hero in every sense of the word. Howard, a member of the famed 2014 Jackie Robinson West Little League team, grew up in the Chicago area and went to Mount Carmel High School when he was selected with the 16th overall selection in 2020. It was a feel-good pick and very easy to get behind.
Unfortunately, after a lost year of development due to COVID, Howard’s first minor league season didn’t go how anyone had hoped. Howard, who was a top 100 prospect according to Baseball Prospectus going into the season, spent his entire 80-game season in A-ball Myrtle Beach, slashing just .225/.277/.315 and striking out 98 times in 326 plate appearances.
Howard did have some nice streaks throughout the season, but he was never able to sustain any of them and with so many new prospects brought in at the deadline and the breakouts of players like Cristian Hernandez and Brennen Davis, Howard has quickly become something of an afterthought.
However, no one should be counting out Howard just yet. One thing that he did do well consistently was flash his defense. One of the selling points for the Chicagoland native, when he was drafted, was his potentially elite glove and that held up for the most part in Myrtle Beach.
It’s also important to bear in mind that Howard is still just 19 years old and only just completed his first season of organized baseball in two years. A majority of scouts said that his bat would need time to come along and that’s proving true so far.
Chicago Cubs know Ed Howard might need some seasoning in the minors
Howard does have a very short and quick swing and will likely never be a true power hitter, but if he can work his way into being around a 90 wRC+ player with elite shortstop defense, then there’s a good chance he could be a perennial 3.0-WAR player in the majors, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
The lost year of development hindered all minor leaguers, but it hurts Howard more than others because of the amount of development high school players need in general. The Cubs have a logjam of prospects at shortstop, but this doesn’t mean Howard should be lost in the shuffle.
While there needs to be a significant amount of development and improvement shown from Howard, there’s no reason to give up hope on the young prospect. There is a fairly high ceiling that can be reached with Howard, and if it is, the Cubs will have a very good problem at shortstop in the future.