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SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Top MLB Draft prospect Ed Howard IV ‘the total package’
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SENIOR SPOTLIGHT

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Top MLB Draft prospect Ed Howard IV ‘the total package’

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Lynwood’s soon-to-be teenage millionaire had millions on the line for his senior season at Mount Carmel, but all he’s worried about is getting better each day.

Ed Howard IV is a consensus first round pick for MLB’s 2020 first-year player draft, which will be held June 10. He’s projected to be selected in the mid-to-late first round by multiple entities.

“I’m always trying to prove myself and show I’m always working. I definitely had a lot to show in my last year of high school,” Howard said. “Senior year is usually always the best year, and I think it would’ve been one of my best years at Carmel. It just sucks that I don’t get the opportunity to show it.”

Each draft slot is assigned a signing-bonus value with the first pick getting $8.42 million and the 29th pick getting $2.42 million. With that money on the table, it's likely Howard foregoes his college commitment to Oklahoma and signs with whichever MLB team selects him.

Howard is known for his defensive ability as a shortstop. Walking into Mount Carmel as a 5-foot-4, 130-pound freshman, his focus was adding weight. He hit a growth spurt and packed on the muscle to reach 6-2, 193 pounds.

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That made a big difference and allowed coach Brian Hurry to see something he hasn’t seen in Howard — who he’s had his eyes on since the Jackie Robinson West team won the U.S. tournament of the 2014 Little League World Series (the title has since been stripped due to "fraud and cover up").

“What I was really looking forward to ... in the early part of practice just in the batting cage, the ball was exploding off his bat more than I had ever seen in his first three years,” Hurry said. “It was like a different sound exploding, so I think people would have seen the greatest growth in his game.”

His senior campaign would have been impressive given as a junior he hit .421 with 20 extra-base hits (13 doubles, four triples and three home runs) and 20 walks to 18 strikeouts. The foundation of his game is with his glove and as a smooth-fielding shortstop with a strong arm, scouts are excited about his future as a MLB shortstop.

Ed Howard IV, Mount Carmel

Ed Howard IV, a Lynwood resident and Mount Carmel senior, sprints to first base during a game. Howard is projected to be a first-round pick in MLB's 2020 first-year player draft on June 10.

It’s even drawn the attention of White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who asked to work out with Howard in January on his birthday. Howard said the opportunity to train with one of his favorite players was “a blessing.”

“We just really understood how much we had in common,” Howard said. “He’s a real cool dude. I appreciate all he does because he’s a shortstop in the big leagues and he didn’t have to reach out and talk to me like that ... and I just want to follow in his footsteps.”

Like Anderson, Howard is African American which he said is a big reason the two bonded. At the start of the 2019 season, there were only 68 African-American players out of 882 on Major League rosters, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Howard wants to be a leader and role model for years to come for young kids to dream big like he did.

“(Anderson’s) in a situation that I’m heading towards. I definitely want to take that fight on as an African-American baseball player,” Howard said. “There’s not a lot of them so just me being one is going to be a special time. I’ll definitely take on that challenge and I just want to represent the best I can and show people there’s a lot of African Americans that play baseball and just represent.”

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Howard was exposed at a young age to a major-league work ethic. He started working with Lou Collier when he was 7 years old. Collier, a Chicago native, played for five teams in eight MLB seasons before retiring after 2004.

“Collier taught me everything about defense,” Howard said. “He moved me to shortstop and we did a lot of drills, and I just like playing it. Shortstop is a premier position on the field so I take pride in it and try to be the best at it. It’s fun. I can change the game defensively and I can change the game offensively.”

Ed Howard IV, Mount Carmel

Ed Howard IV, a Lynwood Resident, fields a ball for Mount Carmel. The senior is began training with former MLB player Lou Collier at 7 years old. Howard is projected to be a first-round pick in MLB's 2020 first-year player draft on June 10.

It’s that ability that allowed a short, lanky freshman start at shortstop as the postseason neared.

“Ed came in pretty fundamentally advanced but he was physically undersized,” Hurry said. “His physical maturation with his work ethic and how much he has improved over the last four years, I’m actually not that surprised that he’s on this national level now and considered one of the best high school players.”

“The total package”

Howard’s going to realize his lifelong dream. He entered teams’ radars when Mount Carmel played in the National High School Invitational in 2018, Howard’s sophomore season, as the Caravan featured Alek Thomas.

Thomas was selected in the second round of the 2018 draft and is the 87th prospect according to Baseball America. He is in the Arizona Diamondbacks system and is projected to make the big leagues in 2021.

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Watching Thomas go through the scouting process was beneficial for Howard. He admired the way Thomas handled himself and learned in his shadows.

“It was just a blessing to see somebody else go through that,” Howard said. “I got to go to his draft party ... and I just remember the whole night I was there I was just like, ‘I can’t wait to be in this whole situation.’ I went home that night and I was just dreaming about it.”

Ed Howard IV, Mount Carmel

Lynwood resident Ed Howard IV reads the pitcher while leading off third base in front of Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry. Hurry called Howard 'the total package' and has told scouts his player isn't 'too good to be true' ahead of MLB's first-year player draft on June 10, 2020. Howard is projected to be a first-round pick.

What teams see with Howard is what they get — a humble, respectful, nice player with a work ethic motivated by success.

Teams are doing their homework on the Oklahoma recruit, who is likely to forego college and is ranked as high as ninth by FanGraphs, and are struggling to find a reason not to draft him.

“Last week the Kansas City Royals scouting director said, ‘Coach, we’ve been watching Ed since the 2018 NHSI … We’ve done a lot of research on him and we cannot find a single bad thing on him. The kid to us seems too good to be true,’” Hurry said. “And I said to him, ‘Believe me, I know what you’re saying and it’s not too good to be true. He really is all that on and off the field.’”

Ed Howard IV

Ed Howard IV

The Royals, who use future Hall of Fame football coach Urban Meyer as an advisor, told Hurry that being nice doesn’t always translate to being competitive. Hurry isn’t worried about Howard, though.

“He’s nice but he hates to lose and he’s one of the best competitors that I’ve ever had. So don’t be fooled by he’s such a nice, humble, respectful kid,” he said. “He hates to lose, he loves to win and he’s just the total package.”

“You can’t be (nice on the field),” Howard said. “On the field I keep my emotions in check but in my head I’m not friendly with the opposing team. Every time I’m up to bat, I’m not happy with the pitcher. I’m always thinking about making him look bad at that time.”

“I just try to be friendly but definitely on the baseball field it’s competitive. It’s a dog eat dog, go out there and kill (mentality).”

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