Ed Howard and Brennen Davis are two of the top five prospects in the Chicago Cubs farm system.
The idea of becoming a foundational piece of a rebuild should excite any ballplayer, but for these two young MLB bros, the opportunity to do so in a Cubs uniform can add to a rich history of Black baseball on Chicago’s North Side.
Howard, the 19-year old Chicago kid who rose to fame during his historic Little League World Series run with the Jackie Robinson West program, was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2020 draft.
The pick was loved all over the city, and Howard seemed more than ready for the challenge of playing at home.
“I was looking forward to it,” Howard told MLB.com. “I wanted to be a hometown kid. I’m excited it’s with the Cubs. I think that’s a great organization. I watch a lot of Cubs games, follow them, know a lot of their players and things like that, so I’m excited to be a hometown guy. It’s special.”
The 6-foot-2, 185 pound Howard is projected as a plus shortstop with consistent hard contact and gap power with room to grow. The consensus top prep shortstop in his class will be given every opportunity to become a staple of the Cubs middle infield of the future.
But Howard, a smooth fielder, wouldn’t be the first MLB bro to make noise at short for the Cubs.
Made popular by his catchphrase “Let’s play two”, Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks was signed by the Cubs from the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs in 1953. Once in Chicago, Banks quickly cemented himself as the greatest power-hitting shortstop in the game.
After hitting 19 home runs his rookie season, Banks hit 44 bombs the very next year and would go on to hit 40 homers five times from 1955-60. Banks’ unprecedented power from the position wouldn’t be matched until deep into the “steroid era”.
Now for Davis, there aren’t any additional pressures of being a hometown kid, but there are still some lofty expectations being placed on the 21- year old, 2018 second-round pick. Just listen to Iowa Cubs’ manager Marty Pevey:
“I’ve never — and this is the God’s honest truth — I have never seen power like this kid’s going to have. I’m not talking about pull power. I’m talking about just raw, leverage power — like Dale Murphy driving the ball to right-center early in his career. Holy smokes, he’s got some pop.”
Murphy was a great power hitter in his era, but when you began to see “30-30 talent” on scouting reports, you have to immediately think of another former Cub. Andre Dawson flirted with the 30-30 club early in his career but didn’t become a league MVP until joining the Cubs in 1989.
In order to revive the game of baseball in the Black community, we need an influx of young, Black, exciting talent.
With MLB bros like Howard and Davis in the pipeline, the future looks brighter than ever.