Will White Sox regret letting Howard drop to Cubs in draft?

Tim Anderson not only won the American League batting title last season, his .335 average was the best in the major leagues.

The White Sox's shortstop is relatively young - he turns 27 on June 23 - and Anderson is under contract through the 2022 season. The Sox hold club options for 2023 and '24.

If he maxes out the deal, Anderson would be 31 years old. His game could very well be at an all-star level in 2024, and it's certainly possible the White Sox give Anderson another contract extension.

Why bring this up now, you ask?

Holding the No. 11 overall pick in last week's draft, there was growing speculation the Sox were going to take Ed Howard.

A local high school star who prepped at Mount Carmel, Howard grew up a White Sox fan. He was also a member of the organization's ACE (Amateur City Elite) program.

When it was the Sox's turn to pick, Cubs amateur scouting director Dan Kantrovitz feared the worst.

"It's reasonable to expect the other local team to be in on Ed as much as we were," Kantrovitz said.

The White Sox passed on Howard, taking Tennessee left-hander Garrett Crochet on the first round.

Five picks later, Howard was still on the board, and the Cubs pounced.

"Selecting Ed was literally at the top of our list," Kantrovitz said. "We're ecstatic."

While joining the Sox would have been a dream scenario, Howard is nonetheless thrilled about the prospects of playing major-league baseball in Chicago.

"I wouldn't say I was disappointed," Howard said. "The White Sox? That's their pick and they did what they felt was best. Do I agree with them? No. But I'm excited to be with the Cubs."

"I love who loves me, and all I can say is I'm ready. I'm ready to go to the North Side and play. I truly mean that. So I'm not really worried about the Sox pick and what they're doing. I'm excited to be a Cub."

Anderson has been a mentor to Howard in recent years.

"I wish you the best," Anderson said to Howard on a video call after he was drafted by the Cubs. "I'm excited about watching your future, looking forward to hopefully playing against you and stepping between the lines with you one day.

"I'm here for you. If you ever need anything, definitely give me a call. Good luck on your journey."

Rave reviews:

Garrett Crochet was widely viewed as a safe, solid choice for the White Sox on the first round of the draft.

Second-round pick Jared Kelley was greeted with much greater fanfare.

"He is a man among boys," a scout told Baseball America. "At the Area Codes (last summer), he was just toying with guys. The last guy who I saw who could pitch fastball/changeup like that was Chris Paddack, and you saw how quick he got to the big leagues. Kelley has better stuff than Paddack in high school."

Paddack made his major-league debut with the Padres last season and was 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 140⅔ innings.

Kelley didn't get to play a full senior season at Refugio (Texas) High School this year, but he did strike out 34 of the 36 batters he faced and didn't allow a hit over 12 innings.

"After landing Garrett Crochet in the first round and Jared Kelley in the second round, this class can officially be dubbed Chicago Fire,'" Baseball America opined.

The right sport?

Jordan Nwgou could have gone to college on a football scholarship, but the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder stayed home coming out of Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.

Nwgou chose Michigan and he went to school on an academic scholarship.

He also started playing baseball and was the Wolverines' primary leadoff hitter despite his size.

The Cubs selected Nwgou on the third round of the draft.

Equipped with a solid bat and speed, Nwgou is still a work in progress as an outfielder.

Help wanted:

The draft was cut to five rounds this year, down from the usual 40, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning today, undrafted players can sign with major-league teams, but only for $20,000.

"We're excited," Sox amateur scouting director Mike Shirley said. "I think we'll get a couple good guys out of there, and hopefully some White Sox fans who want to play for us. Our area scouts will submit the lists, guys they want to attack, and we feel pretty good about that. We'll get these guys up here for their physicals ASAP and figure it out from there."

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