Under Armour All-America Game Is a Homecoming For Ed Howard
CHICAGO — Shortstop Ed Howard is one of the top high school prospects in the 2020 class and is one of the 40 players invited to the prestigious Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory.
He was also one of the five standouts from Sunday's workout, with impressive defensive skill and offensive upside.
Baseball America caught up with Howard to talk about his game, his goals for the summer and what being a Chicago-area product means for him as he steps onto Wrigley Field.
Baseball America: What kind of a baseball player are you?
Ed Howard: I don’t know, that’s a tough one. I don’t want to sound (cocky) . . . I feel like I’m a very good defensive presence in-game. You put me at short, put me with that defense, I think I will help the whole defense out, even the guys around me. Then, with the bat, I think I’m a good gap-to-gap hitter with occasional power, too. I don’t know, I think I would just bring that presence and play smooth and easily. Real calm and almost making it look easy even though it’s not—just really relaxed . . .
BA: Priding yourself on defense, has that always come natural to you?
EH: For me personally, I take it really serious. I try to be perfect at shortstop. It’s a major position, so I take pride in my defense, just making sure it’s up to par. And of course I like to hit too, so I work on the bat, but as a shortstop I think that should be a main priority, to be a solid defender.
BA: Who is your favorite MLB team?
EH: White Sox. In the south side, I go to more White Sox games, I’ve been around them for a long time. I like their manager right now. So it’s just straight White Sox.
BA: Favorite player growing up or now?
EH: I always gravitate toward shortstops. So, usually with the White Sox with Alexei Ramirez when he was there, now I really like Tim Anderson a lot. I even like Javier Baez even though he’s with the Cubs. I like him too. Mainly shortstops.
BA: Any players that you’ve modeled your game after?
EH: I like Manny Machado. I like the way he plays. A lot of people don’t like the way he plays, but as far as his baseball skillset, I like his defense. Just really smooth, laid back with a strong arm. Offensively, he’s more of a gap-to-gap guy too, but he has pull power also. Just his size, he’s long and lanky, and I just kind of see myself as filling out to be kind of like him.
BA: When did you realize you were good enough to play in this game?
EH: I’ve been watching this game for years. Corey Ray came through here, Alek (Thomas)—I watched both of those guys play and it was always something that I wanted to do. I knew I worked really hard, but my name wasn’t out there on the national scene yet. It just all started to, really over the last summer and my junior year, it really started to hit me that my name was getting out there more and that I was going to get opportunities to play in these games. I wouldn’t say I was surprised because I knew how hard I worked. So I knew I could handle it, and I’m just excited that I’m finally getting a chance.
Just doing what I did over and over again and it finally just all clicked. I grew a little bit, got stronger. And also mentally, just having the mental attitude that I am good enough, I am one of the top players, just carrying myself at that level and not expecting anything less than that.
BA: Which pitchers in the 2020 class come to mind as difficult or particularly tough to face?
EH: They are all good. I can’t name one pitcher who really stuck out to me. There are a few guys who are really good.
As far as playing with, I know I’m not playing with him (at the Under Armour game) but Austin Hendrick. I’ve gotten to meet him and hang out with him a few times, I really like the way he goes about everything. Robert Moore—I’m not sure if he’s on my team or not—I like playing middle infield with him. I love playing up the middle, turning two with him.
And the pitchers, Jared Jones, he was my roommate down there at PDP and just watching him go out there and do what he does everyday—I don’t know I just enjoy watching everyone.
'He's The Best:' Georgia's Emerson Hancock Rises To Join College Baseball's Elite
Hancock's rise to being one of the top 2020 MLB Draft prospects is rooted in patience and added power since arriving at Georgia.
BA: What are your goals for the summer?
EH: I just want to keep getting better. I want to hit consistently. I want to show everybody my bat. I want to do Team USA. That’s one of my big goals. Making Team USA. Just keep getting better, get ready for my senior year, finish strong and then go on wherever I go, whether I go to Oklahoma or whatever I decide to do.
BA: You're an Oklahoma commit. What about that program excites you?
EH: When I went there I just felt like they really liked me, I felt like they really wanted me. I just always said I wanted to go to a program where I felt wanted, and that was a program where I did. The facilities were nice, it just didn’t really have any red flags, so why not go there? That’s where I decided to go.
BA: If you didn’t play baseball what sport would you play?
EH: Probably basketball. I still like basketball. When I played I kind of played everywhere, because I can get rebounds, I can dribble, I can shoot . . . I stopped after freshman year. Only stopped because I wanted to focus on baseball, and it was hard trying to keep weight because I’m someone who needs to maintain weight. I can lose it just like that.
BA: What kind of music do you listen to?
EH: Hip hop. There are a lot of guys I like. I like Drake a lot. NBAYoungBoy. Meek Mill. Anything. I listen to a lot of stuff.
BA: What’s your walk-up song?
EH: I’ve never had one. I don’t get it at high school, so I’ve never chosen one. A lot of kids do it, but at my school we don’t do it . . . If I had to pick one for Under Armour, I would do Homecoming by Kanye West. Because I’m playing here at Wrigley Field, I think it would fit perfectly.