MLB Draft: Ed Howard is ‘ready to go to the North Side and play' for the Cubs


How would you handle the pressure that would come with being the hometown kid?

The Cubs posed that question to Ed Howard IV during a pre-draft interview.

“I was looking forward to it,” Howard remembers saying. “I wanted to be a hometown kid. I’m excited it’s with the Cubs. … I’m ready to take on that challenge and have fun and play my game.”

On Wednesday, they made it happen. The Cubs selected Howard No. 16 overall with their first pick in the MLB Draft. Overall, the coronavirus shutdowns were a disadvantage to high school prospects like Howard  -- for the first time in draft history, no prep prospect was selected in the first seven picks of the draft.  But the Cubs had plenty of data on Howard.

Not only had Howard played for Mount Carmel High School and gone to the Little League World Series final with Jackie Robinson West -- the team was later stripped of its U.S. title, after Little League Baseball found that the team had players from outside its designated boundaries. He also had known Cubs scout Kerron Walker for years.

“He’s worked out with Ed, he’s trained Ed,” said Dan Kantrovitz, Cubs vice president of scouting. “We leaned heavily on Kerron’s evaluation and the intel Kerron had in this case.”

Howard was also the first prospect Kantrovitz met with in January. Kantrovitz, who the Cubs hired in November, flew from California to Chicago just to watch Howard’s workout at Wrigley Field and meet with the high school senior and his parents.

“I can tell everybody at this point,” Kantrovitz said, “it was definitely worth it.”

Other things stood out to Kantrovitz during Howard’s pre-draft process: the way Howard described his training routine, the glimpse Kantrovitz caught of Howard’s left hand during a Zoom call.

“At the moment that we realized he was wearing his glove and was just chomping at the bit to get out to the field and take ground balls and play,” Kantrovitz said, “we knew that he had the intangibles that we were looking for.”

Although Howard said he follows both the Cubs and White Sox, he spent his childhood going to games on the South Side. He also played for the White Sox Amateur City Elite program.

“I grew up in a White Sox hat,” he told NBC Sports Chicago.

Kantrovitz said Howard was the Cubs’ top target, but he didn’t expect Howard to still be available. There were two teams ahead of the Cubs that Kantrovitz was  sure were going select Howard. While Kantrovitz declined to say if the White Sox were one of them, he did say he was on the edge of his seat for every pick after the ninth or 10th. The White Sox had the No. 11 pick.

“It’s reasonable to expect the other local team to be in on Ed as much as we were,” Kantrovitz said.

Was Howard disappointed that the White Sox didn’t pick him?

“Nah, not at all,” Howard said. “The White Sox, that’s their pick, and they did what they felt was best. Do I agree with them? No. But, I’m excited to be with the Cubs. I love who loves me, and all I can say is, I’m ready. I’m ready to go to the North Side and play.”

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