Cubs hoping ‘big year’ in store for prospect Ed Howard
It seems hard to believe nearly two years have gone by since the Cubs drafted hometown kid Ed Howard with the 16th overall pick in the 2020 MLB Amateur Draft.
A lot has happened in that time and due to the nature of the pandemic, the Mount Carmel prospect missed out on about a year’s worth of game action between his senior season of high school and first summer/fall in the Cubs organization.
So when Howard stepped on the field for Low-A Myrtle Beach last year, it’s fair to assume there would be a learning curve. That’s exactly what played out for the young infielder, who batted .225 with a .592 OPS in 80 games.
However, he ended on an upswing, hitting .316 with an .812 OPS and 17 RBI in his final 27 games.
Howard carried that momentum into the offseason, where he spent the early part of the winter focusing on bulking up and working on his flexibility, as he told Marquee Sports Network’s Lance Brozdowski in Arizona this week.
The Cubs know what he’s capable of and are doing everything they can to help him reach his potential.
“[Development is] not always linear so any time you face adversity, it’s about how you bounce back from it,” VP of Player Development Jared Banner said on the Cubs Weekly Podcast. “Ed’s been here at the complex all offseason working with our strength guys, working with our coaching staff every day to get better. He has a great head on his shoulders and he has all the tools in the world.
“He’s a great defender, can run, can hit for a ton of power. So there are just some adjustments that he’s gonna need to make at the plate and he’s very aware of that. We all think he’s going to make them and have a big year.”
Howard has also benefitted from being around a bunch of players in similar positions at Cubs’ prospect camp in Arizona. The organization has helped him with training, nutrition and daily meals, allowing him to focus on his development on the field.
“It was perfect,” Howard said. “You really can’t ask for a better offseason plan than being out here and being able to train at the facility. … We started off moreso with weights and conditioning and lifting in the gym a lot and now we’re getting more into the baseball side of things.”
Howard said he has been taking groundballs and working on his defensive skills. He was drafted as a shortstop and spent most of his time there (58 games) in 2021, but the Cubs also got him some exposure at second base (21 games) to improve his versatility.
Howard — who was ranked 8th on Brozdowski’s Cubs prospects list last summer — admitted he has made some adjustments to his swing mechanics but would rather wait for game action to truly evaluate his progress in that area.
As for his goals this season, Howard is keeping it simple.
“Take it day by day,” he said. “Just do what I do. Have fun. I’ve been working this whole offseason and now it’s time for me to let it show. Stay in the moment and take it day by day.”
Listen to the entire podcast with Banner on more prospects in the Cubs farm system: