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School: Virginia; Class: Junior
Position: RHP; B/T: R/R
Height: 6-4; Weight: 215 pounds
Previously Drafted: N/A
Background: Named to the watch list for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award coming into the season, Howard, who slugged .323/.344/.449 with 17 extra-base hits in 2013, has seen both sides of his game go in opposite directions this year.
Typically a solid offensive contributor, the 6-foot-4 right-hander/infielder is batting a career low .258/.308/.318 with just six doubles and one triple in his first 153 plate appearances. But in his first season as Virginia’s closer, Howard has fanned 43 and walked just six in 23.1 innings of work, totaling a miniscule 1.16 ERA.
For his career on the mound, the former converted starter has averaged more than a punch out per inning while walking 2.36 BB/9.
Projection: Again, he falls into that category of very intriguing pitching prospect given his athleticism and lack of experience. Despite that, though, Howard’s shown an incredible feel for the mound, offering above-average control/command and an equally promising ability to miss bats.
A better version of Michael Lorenzen, the Cincinnati’s supplemental first round pick out of Cal State Fullerton last year.
Howard’s poised to move quickly if he remains in the pen, but his 2013 success in the rotation offers a glimpse of some interesting upside as a starting pitcher. Plus, he was rather competitive pitching out of the rotation in the Cape last summer too, striking out 25 and walking just four in 24.2 innings.
Obviously, it would behoove the club selecting him to at least try him out in the rotation. Another rotation-sleeper-type.
Ceiling: 3.5-win player (starter); 1.5- to 2.0-player (reliever)
Floor: 0.5 to 1.0-win player
Likelihood of Reaching His Ceiling: Moderate (starter); Above-Average (reliever)
Draft Projection: First/Second Round
Photo Courtesy of Kelsey Grant via cavalierdaily.com.