Despite The Stars Aligning, Ed Howard Is Not The Answer For The White Sox
I understand White Sox fans fawning over the Shortstop out of Mount Carmel. From a bird's eye view, it's a slam dunk selection for the Sox to take Howard at 11. He's been a member of the Chicago White Sox ACE program since he was 11-years old, he is considered by many the best pure Shortstop in an extremely deep draft and standing at 6'2 185lbs he has the type of frame that will cause the blood to flow to a certain extremity in strength coaches across baseball.
In the first video, the thing that stuck out to me about Howard the most was his ability to remain composed in the box. The right-handed Shortstop was almost hit up and in 3 times during the ab. He fouled off a few pitches during the 6-pitch AB and lined one opposite field into shallow right field. A lot of young hitters are almost afraid to hit to all fields in my opinion, but during the video from July 3-4th of last summer, you can tell Howard has a refined approach in the box. From my recliner, it looks like he using his hips inconsistently and can be all arms at times. But then he launched a ball into orbit to the Left Center gap and his hips exploded like you had a 25 kill streak and dropped a Nuke. He becomes more consistent with his swing and he'll end up becoming a huge threat in the Bigs.
Slow-Mo turned me on a bit
I'm not finding as many fielding videos as I'd like, but he's gifted with the glove. Watch the few seconds in the second video and you can tell he knows what e's doing- gets around the ball well, has a quick transfer turning the double play, and just makes it look easy. He's known for his defense, and you can tell. I don't have enough credibility as a 1-time Travel Baseball coach to provide any critiques to Howard defensively. Quite frankly, I'd sound dumb.
Up to this point, I'm sure you're thinking this sounds like an endorsement for Howard at 11, and don't twist my words, I won't be upset if this is the direction the Front Office decides to head in. The former Jackie Robinson West star checks all the boxes and can be that first prospect to usher in the new era of the White Sox farm system, but I find Howard at 11 to be a reach.
This draft is being lauded as being the deepest since the 2011 draft that saw Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, George Springer and Jose Fernandez all drafted in the Top-15, I think there will be greater value than Howard at 11. My other issue with every fan drooling over Howard as much as they are is that I've had friends who have played with both Alek Thomas and Ed Howard at Mount Carmel. ALL of them have said that Howard isn't in the same zip code as Thomas when it comes to pure talent. During my brief career as a high school play-by-play announcer, I was lucky enough to see both play, Thomas stuck out to me, Howard didn't. I understand Howard was younger when I saw him play, but I never would have assumed Howard would be drafted this high out of high school. Thomas is a Top-100 Prospect in the Diamondbacks system and was a Second Round Pick in 2018, and it's hard for me to believe that Howard's projectable frame is enough to propel him that much higher than Thomas.
I knew Thomas was the real deal before I ever saw him play baseball. During the summer of 2015 at a 16-inch Tournament we would organize between all of the different grammar schools, Alek showed up just to watch. Someone told him to take a swing in between games and after putting down his basket of chicken fingers from Mr. Sub, he launched a softball into a backyard, over a 20-foot tall fence at Monroe Park while wearing flip flops. My jaw hit the floor, panties were wet and 15-year olds were trying their best to hide their half chub. Come at my integrity if you please, but if I would have seen Ed Howard do something like that we wouldn't be here right now.
Heading into the 10th, I'm not sure what direction the Sox head in but you have to assume it'll be a high school prospect. Courtney Hawkins in 2012 was the last time they took a high school player in the first, and rightfully so, that blunder scared the scouting department. In an ideal world, the Sox end up with Zac Veen, but we all know that's not happening. Two other high schoolers I like are Robert Hassell, the best all-around high school hitter imo, and a friend of mine has turned me onto Tyler Soderstorm. You're drafting him for his bat, and looking past the log jam at catcher on the 40-man. Soderstorm provides positional flexibility with his athleticism and profiles as a Catcher, 3rd Basemen or even in the Outfield. I really have no idea what direction they head in, but if he's there, they MUST pull the trigger on Reid Detmers, a LHP out of Louisville. is curveball makes me feel things, and it'll do the same to you.