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Howard Reds’ top selection

Published 12:55am Friday, June 6, 2014

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

CINCINNATI — This draft pick might give the Cincinnati Reds more than they expect.

On the first day of the Major League Baseball draft, the Reds used the No. 19 pick to select University of Virginia pitcher Nick Howard who also doubles as an infielder.

Howard has a fastball in the 94-96 range and has topped out at 98 miles an hour. He is being projected as a possible starter or late inning reliever.

However, he also is one of the top two-way players in the country and is a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.

Last season, Howard had a .794 OPS with 17 extra base hits and drove in 38 runs in 50 games. On the mound he had a 3.38 earned run average with 52 strikeouts in 61.1 innings as a member of the starting rotation.

His production slipped this year with only 25 strikeouts in 43 games and a .647 OPS.

Although his numbers were down this season, the stock has been rising for the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Howard who is said to have a very strong core and lower half of the body with impressive strength and athleticism.

Scouts term his delivery as “clean” which causes his fastball to jump on opposing hitters. He has an average curveball and also throws a changeup.

The 21-year-old righthander is expected to sign with the Reds unless he decides to return to school next season to prove he can be a position player.

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