June 22: The Cubs have formally announced the signing. Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets that Howard’s exact bonus is $3.7455MM (the full slot value for the No. 16 pick).
June 21: The Cubs have agreed to terms with first-round draft choice Ed Howard, according to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic. Howard will receive a $3.75MM bonus, on par with the slot value for the 16th overall pick with which he was chosen. The Cubs entered the draft with an overall pool of $6,721,600.
In Howard, the Cubs got not only the best high-school shortstop in this year’s draft class, but a hometown product as well, with Howard playing his high-school ball in Chicago. He’d been committed to continue his career at the University of Oklahoma, but as a surefire first-rounder, there was little doubt that Howard would instead play affiliated baseball.
Howard’s calling card is his steady, fluid defense at shortstop. With a strong throwing arm and smooth footwork, scouts almost universally think he’ll be able to stick at shortstop in the Majors. There’s less certainty about his offensive game, but evaluators laud his bat speed and believe there’s room for more power with a refined approach and some physical development.
At just 18 years old, Howard and the Cubs will have plenty of time to work on his game before he’s a finished product. Make no mistake, his selection likely has nothing to do with Javier Baez’s future in a Cubs uniform; Howard is an outstanding prospect regardless of the Cubs’ situation at shortstop, and we’ll look forward to seeing him make an impact at the Major League level in the near future.