By Joseph Phillips
Known as one of the star players on the 2014 Jackie Robinson West Little League World Series Championship team, Mt. Carmel High School’s baseball star player Ed Howard’s dream came true on Wednesday night June 10 in the 2020 MLB Draft. Howard was selected in the first round 16th overall by the Chicago Cubs and was very happy to be drafted by his hometown team.
According to MLB.com Jordan Bastian, Cubs scout Dan Kantrovitz said he has seen plenty of video of Howard as a prospect. The Cubs’ new vice president of scouting had met Howard in person prior to the draft, observed his swing in the indoor batting cages at Wrigley Field and had lengthy conversations with the Chicago kid and his family.
Kantrovitz said when it came to Howard, there was one more thing that caught his eye in the days leading up to the Cubs drafting him 16th overall in Wednesday’s 2020 MLB Draft, “he always wears his glove.”
“During the scouting process, Kantrovitz and members of his team held Zoom calls with around 150 players,” said Bastian of MLB.com. “In a video conference with Howard, Kantrovitz caught a glimpse of something at the bottom of the screen in the prep star’s hand. It was Howard’s baseball glove, slid over his left hand for no reason other than a constant love for the game.”
Kantrovitz said the moment he realized Howard was wearing his glove and was just “chomping at the bit” to get out on the field and take ground balls and play, “we knew he had the intangibles we were looking for.”
Howard, who was flattered by the compliments of Cubs scout Dan Kantrovitz responded, “I always lay around the house throwing the ball up while playing around with my glove.”
In addition to playing catch with himself with his glove, Howard said his regiment extends a bit further, this includes swinging a bat in his living room for repetition purposes, and bettering his intangibles, so that he can continue to play the game he loves the most–baseball.
The 18-year-old Howard, who was once an original product of the Chicago White Sox Ace Academy inner city baseball program, was a top target of the Sox, but was passed over with the team’s 11th overall pick in the draft. Following the move by the White Sox, the Cubs pounced on Howard and drafted him 16th overall.
“On a flight from California to Chicago back then, Kantrovitz pored over video of Howard’s at-bats and defensive plays before a planned meeting with the shortstop at Wrigley Field,” said MLB.com Bastian. “When Kantrovitz reached the ballpark and saw Howard [the 2019-20 Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year] in person, he was taken aback.”
Once drafted by the Cubs, Howard was excited.
“I was looking forward to it. I wanted to be a hometown kid,” Howard said in a interview with MLB.com. “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.”
With his love for the Cubs, Howard has also developed a strong relationship with last year’s American League Batting champion star shortstop Tim Anderson of the White Sox.
Anderson, one of the many potent hitters in the White Sox line up, has been a role model for Howard since day one even to a point where Howard reached out to Anderson after being drafted by the Cubs.
“It’s special,” Howard said via MLB.com. “I’ve gotten closer to him, and 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.”
According to MLB.com Bastian’s projection, the 16th overall pick comes with a slot value of $3,745,500 this year (out of the Cubs’ overall allotted $6,721,600). This also marks the first time the Cubs have taken a high schooler with their top overall pick since 2012, when Chicago selected outfielder Albert Almora Jr.
Most recently, Howard’s high school baseball season was canceled due to COVID-19, but was still named the Gatorade High School Player of The Year for the 2019-2020 season for the state of Illinois.