I was immediately excited when the Cubs took Ed Howard 16th overall last night, and how couldn’t I be? Aside from his status as the top prep shortstop in the class, with a projectable frame, and no questions about sticking at the position long-term … he’s a local guy. That’s just so easy to get behind. But the more I dug into his profile, the more my interest grew.
Ed Howard was on the Jackie Robinson West team that went to the finals in 2014, he has the work ethic and practices of an older, more experienced player, he’s joining the ranks of an absolutely stacked position within the Cubs organization, and he was “literally our best-case scenario,” according to new Cubs scouting director Dan Kantrovitz.
And, sure, you might say any scouting director worth his salt will say nice things about their first overall pick, because, well, obviously they liked him enough to take him, but I challenge you to go read the full quotes and tell me the Cubs weren’t absolutely dying to get their hands on Howard: “With every pick after the 9th or 1oth pick, we’re taking deep breaths.”
What up Northside💙❤️ @Cubs
— Ed Howard (@ehowardIV) June 11, 2020
When Dan Kantrovitz had his Zoom call with Ed Howard during the pre-draft process, he “caught a glimpse of something at the bottom of the screen in the prep star’s hand,” per Cubs.com. “It was Howard’s baseball glove, slid over his left hand for no reason other than a constant love for the game.” What did Howard have to say about that? He let out a little laugh and said, “I’m always laying around the house throwing the ball up,” he said, “playing around with my glove, swinging a bat in the living room, things like that. I love playing the game.”
Now, you don’t necessarily have to be obsessed with baseball to be a good player, but every great player is obsessed with baseball. So frankly, I love that Howard is walking into zoom calls with a glove on his hand, and I don’t really care how homery it is.
I know Cubs have had higher 1st rd picks in the recent past – guys who went on to become MVPs and MVP runners up, even – but does anyone remember this much unanimous excitement about a pick?
Everyone is happy it's Howard. I love that.
I almost forgot baseball makes me happy.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) June 11, 2020
Over at Cubs.com, Howard got into his relationship with White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. Howard explains how he’s looked up to Anderson and has even gotten closer to him over the years. But it was his next quote that floored me: “I see how he does things on the South Side of Chicago and I just want to imitate that and bring it to the North Side. I’ll be myself. I’ll play my own game. He’ll be Tim Anderson. I’ll be Ed Howard. But definitely, I”m excited to be here in Chicago and get to represent the Cubs.”
I mean. You guys.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the South Side of town, Tim Anderson has sort of blossomed into a model modern big leaguer, with a passion for the game that he plays so well. And he shows it. But more than that, he’s turned into an icon for so many young baseballers, including young Black players: “I enjoy it [the responsibility of being the lone Black player on the White Sox]…..a lot of those kids in they area [the South Side], they kinda remind me of myself.” That was from July, 2019. Almost exactly one year ago before the Cubs selected Ed Howard to be their next shortstop.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) June 11, 2020
Again … come on. Is this crosstown love not exactly what you needed today?
Of course, we need this love right now – in part – because there is no baseball to hold onto. And while I’m not a wise, experienced adult, I can’t imagine what the world looks like to an 18-year-old kid, just trying to make it to the big leagues right now: “Honestly, I really didn’t believe that the season could really get canceled like that,” Howard said. “Who would’ve thought that my senior year would get canceled? But, once that was over, I kind of had to move my eyes and attention on to the next step. And for me, that was just putting in the work.”
And boy does this kid put in the work.
Howard: "I know one thing for sure, I'll work hard. I like the Derek Jeter quote, where he said there's no excuse for anybody to work harder than you. That's truly how I feel. I'll continue to work hard and play the game, play my game, have fun, and we'll see how it plays out."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 11, 2020
Ed Howard (@ehowardIV) throwing up a last-minute reminder for interested teams on his IG story 👀💪
He’s our top-ranked SS entering the draft.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 10, 2020
You already know that he was on the Jackie Robinson West team from 2014, but seeing him take at-bats at Wrigley Field and hand the ball off to Starlin Castro, who handed the ball off (metaphorically) to Addison Russell, who handed the ball off to Javy Baez, who may one day pass the ball off to Howard is just so amazing. (OK, it would also be amazing if Ed and Javy just wound up playing next to each other …. )
Chicago kid. pic.twitter.com/JPlsQLrncR
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 11, 2020
Everything he says is right: “I was looking forward to it. I wanted to be a hometown kid,” Howard said. “I’m excited it’s with the Cubs. I think that’s a great organization. I watch a lot of Cubs games, follow them, know a lot of their players and things like that, so I’m excited to be a hometown guy. It’s special.”
It sure is.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) June 11, 2020
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.