Giants’ Ryan Howard Pinpoints Avenues For Improvement

Shortstop Ryan Howard passionately wants to become a big leaguer—and he believes that passion will help him reach his goal.

“I don’t think that I’ve ever been a guy where people are like, ‘Oh, he’s a for-sure big leaguer,’ ” said Howard, 23. “I kind of take pride in that, being a guy who works hard to get to where he wants to go.”

The Giants’ fifth-round pick in 2016, Howard worked hard enough to finish sixth in the California League with a .306 average while playing at high Class A San Jose in 2017. Of his 161 hits, just 30 went for extra bases: 21 doubles and nine home runs.

That motivated Howard, a righthanded hitter listed at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, to find a way to add some pop to his game for 2018. The key might be in his left hip.

The Missouri product said that sometimes his “front hip is leaking out early, which is causing me to lose power and not be able to drive balls to right field.”

General manager Bobby Evans believes Howard can increase his extra-base hit output by becoming more selective; he walked just 23 times in 565 plate appearances in 2017.

“We’ve got to find a way to help him control the count better,” Evans said.

Lefthander Garrett Williams, who spent the final two months of 2017 at San Jose, appreciates Howard’s fiery and funny personality.

Williams said Howard “loves to keep the energy up . . . (He) keeps everybody laughing.”

Having a good sense of humor helps Howard because he shares a name with the Phillies’ long-time slugging first baseman. Each Ryan Howard is from the St. Louis area and each was a fifth-round pick out of college.

Howard has embraced sharing a name with a prominent player, but it took time to reach that point.

He said that in 2017, a fan brought a Ryan Howard Phillies card to a game and asked where Ryan Howard was. “Someone pointed at me, and obviously, I didn’t look like him,” Howard said.

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