MLB Draft: Cubs select local shortstop Ed Howard 16th overall
With the 16th pick in the MLB Draft Wednesday night, the Cubs chose local star Ed Howard out of Mount Carmel High School.
Howard, a shortstop, played a central role on the Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West team that made it to the finals in the 2014 Little League World Series.
The 18-year-old Howard is listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.
Baseball America had Howard as the top-ranked shortstop entering the Draft.
He was atop the Cubs’ list, too.
“For our draft to start with having the opportunity to select Ed Howard with our first pick was literally our best case scenario and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Dan Kantrovitz, the Cubs VP of scouting. “Earlier this week when Jed [Hoyer], Theo [Epstein] and I strategized various scenarios, selecting Ed was literally at the top of our list.
“But frankly, I didn’t think he’d get to our pick. There were a few tenuous moments during the draft where I thought for sure he was gonna get taken. But after the 15th pick went off the board and was announced, I couldn’t wait to tell our local scouts John Pedrotty and Keronn Walker to go call their shortstop and tell him he’s gonna be a Cub.
“We ended up landing our top target.”
Kantrovitz was hired in November and is running his first draft with the Cubs. Howard was the first player he met in person back in January, when he flew from California to Chicago to meet with Howard and his family and watch the young shortstop work out at Wrigley Field.
“I can tell you, it was definitely worth it,” Kantrovitz said.
Howard said he already heard from Epstein, Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant in the initial moments after being selected by the Cubs.
Howard hit .421 with 11 doubles and 3 homers in 35 games in 2019 (his junior season at Mount Carmel). He was named a 2020 preseason All-American by Perfect Game, though he didn’t get to play his senior year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
As for being drafted by his hometown team, there’s some extra pressure that could come with it. But Howard called the selection a “surreal moment” and he’s ready to handle whatever comes his way.
“I was looking forward to it,” Howard said. “I wanted to be a hometown kid. I’m excited it’s with the Cubs. I think it’s a great organization. I’ve watched a lot of Cubs games and followed them and know a lot of their players.
“I’m excited to be a hometown guy. I think it’s special. It’s unique. I’m ready to take on that challenge and have fun and play my game.”
Prior to Howard, the last Illinois high school position player to go in the first round of the MLB Draft was Jayson Werth in 1997.
Howard is currently committed to the University of Oklahoma.
That represents the only pick for the Cubs on Day 1. They also hold the 51st, 88th, 117th and 147th selections.
Due to the pandemic, the MLB Draft was reduced to 5 rounds instead of the usual 40. Round 2 begins Thursday at 4 p.m. Chicago time.