The MLB Draft will start this Wednesday. Over the next few days, we will profile several players the Yankees have been connected to who they could select with their first pick. You can find mock draft results and brief profiles herehere and here. This profile and others this week will be more detailed. Hopefully the Yankees actually select one of these players! Up today: Ed Howard.
Howard is a high school shortstop out of Mount Carmel high school in Chicago. He was part of the Chicago little league team that made the Little League World Series in 2014. Howard is 6’2” and 185 lbs which gives him room to put on some muscle while remaining agile enough to stick at shortstop. That development is what intrigues scouts and makes Howard a potential first round talent.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Howard did not see any game action this year. Last year, teams were impressed with his showing in the summer circuits.
MLB Pipeline ranked Howard as the 15th best prospect in the draft class and Baseball America has him at 20th. Keith Law of The Athletic also has Howard at 15th overall. Those rankings would appear to put Howard out of the Yankees range at 28th overall, but because of everything going, some believe high school players will be less desirable in the draft this year because of increased risk. Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline mocked Howard to the Yankees in an earlier mock, and has reported they have interest in him.
Right now, Howard is most known for his outstanding defense and ability to slow the game down. Both of those are integral qualities for any starting shortstop. Law notes Howard has excellent bat speed and Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs is also optimistic about Howard’s offensive skillset. The future projection is what you bet on with any high school player, and especially one like Howard. The upside is there, but Howard will be a project on the offensive side. The good news is he has his defense to fall back on no matter what. Recent mock drafts have Howard going anywhere from 13th to 26th, so if other teams are risk averse, he could be on the board for the Yankees at 28. Here is video:
There is a lot to like about Howard. The defense is already there, and he could project well offensively as well. This is a weak class overall for high school infielders, and Howard is easily the best of the bunch. The Yankees drafted a high school shortstop in the first round last year with Anthony Volpe, but that doesn’t mean much when thinking about how they should draft this year. With his ability to stick at short and potential offensive upside, Howard might very well be the best player the Yankees could select. If they’re willing to take a risk on a high school player, Howard is the upside pick. And, performance aside, with everything going on in the country and in MLB right now, baseball and the Yankees need more Black stars. As a POC, I would love for the Yankees to draft Howard and help him develop into the next great Yankee shortstop.