Chicago Cubs prospect Ed Howard is facing a lengthy absence.
The shortstop sustained a significant hip injury Tuesday at High-A South Bend. The Cubs are still gathering information on the injury and determining the next steps. Howard hit the ground awkwardly after trying to avoid being tagged on an errant throw to first base.
It’s a blow for Howard, 20, who has been limited to only 103 professional games since the Cubs drafted him with the No. 16 pick in the 2020 draft out of Mount Carmel. Baseball America rates Howard their No. 18 prospect MLB.com put him No. 14 in their preseason rankings.
President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer commended Howard’s good attitude about the situation despite being bummed by the injury. He expects Howard to come back strong.
“It’s never good timing for injury like that,” Hoyer said Saturday. “But it’s a shame. He worked so incredibly hard this winter. I think he got stronger than anyone at our camp this winter. You look at the exit velocities, he brought his strikeout rate down. He’s been playing his typical good defense.
“It’s a shame that his season is going to be cut short.”
The pandemic cost Howard his debut year when the 2020 minor-league season was canceled. He struggled at Low-A Myrtle Beach, producing a .225/.277/.315 slash line and 16 extra-base hits, 5.5 BB% and 30.1 K% in 80 games (326 plate appearances). He also lost six weeks to a hamstring injury.
Howard responded well to a disappointing season. He spent the winter at the Cubs’ complex in Arizona to get hands-on instruction with minor-league staff, participating in a camp featuring more than two dozen of the organization’s top prospects.
The Cubs were encouraged by Howard’s 2022 start after challenging him at South Bend. He was generating more contact (20.4 K%) and getting on base at a better clip (.323 on-base percentage and 9.7 BB%) through 23 games. Now he faces a lengthy recovery.