St. Louis Cardinals MLB Draft Profile: Shortstop Ed Howard

Ed Howard is among the best prep infielder in this entire draft class and has the tools to eventually form into a star. Could the St. Louis Cardinals snag him at 21?

With the MLB Draft approaching, Redbird Rants has been providing profiles for certain prospects who the St. Louis Cardinals could draft. The majority of our profiles have been about college players; so for this report, we will be focusing on one of my favorite prep bats in this class in shortstop Ed Howard.

Remember in 2014 when the Jackie Robinson West Little League team was capturing the hearts of many Americans throughout the Little League World Series, and ended up making it to the World Championship before losing to South Korea? Ed Howard was actually a star on that team. Six years later, he is potentially going to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft.

A few mocks from the expert sites have actually had Ed Howard being picked by the St. Louis Cardinals; and it’s a pick that makes a lot of sense.

What makes Howard so well-liked by scouts is that his athleticism and his raw ability as a hitter. He might have the best glove out of prep infielders in this entire class, and his plus-athleticism plays a huge role in that. His arm in the field is nothing to joke about either, and he could definitely hold the fort at shortstop at the professional level.

The Oklahoma Sooners commit has a great mold for a body at shortstop, currently standing at 6’2 with room to add a ton of strength. Nobody truly knows Howard’s potential as a hitter due to this. He has sensational bat speed and loud pop whenever he makes contact. If he can add to his frame, his power can skyrocket and could develop into a fine shortstop.

Ed Howard has very solid tools across the board and doesn’t show many weaknesses in his game. His ceiling as a pure hitter might not be as high as one would want, but with his athleticism, defense, and power potential; he is the perfect starting point for a star shortstop at the next level.

Back in January, Howard was projected to be a potential Top-10 selection. He dealt with shoulder injuries during the shortened 2020 baseball season and his stock took a slight fall because of it. Regardless, Howard is one heck of a player and if he does end up falling to St. Louis (not out of the question), it could end up being an absolute steal for Randy Flores and Co.

Even when dealing with his injuries, Howard still performed well and even won the 2020 Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year Award, the award that goes to the most outstanding high school baseball player in each state.

Another reason why this could be a great pick for St. Louis is because there is barely any depth with middle infielders in the farm system. The highest SS prospect in the Cardinals farm at the moment is Mateo Gil, who is ranked at No. 21 per MLB Pipeline.

Though the Cardinals might have a shortstop that had a 5 WAR season in 2019 with Paul DeJong, it is always safe to have depth in the system; especially when the guy that is being drafted has a special mold.

(Oh, and the best part about Ed Howard? He might be from Northeast Illinois, but he isn’t a Cubs fan.)

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The verdict on Howard is that he still has a lot of room to grow as a hitter, but with his frame still growing; he has a ton of raw power. With that raw power and athleticism combo, he could be a 20/20 shortstop in the majors with a plus-glove as well. That is what is going to get him snagged somewhere in the back third of the first round.