According to Jim Callis of MLB.com, the Reds have signed their 2014 first-round draft pick Nick Howard for $1,990,500. According to Jeff Todd at MLBTradeRumors.com, the Reds may look to convert Howard to a starting role, even though he was a closer and infielder with Virginia in college.
Todd also notes that Howard has a strong fastball and superb slider, which has led many pundits to label him as one of the best arms available in this year’s draft. In this way, Howard’s situation reminds me of Aroldis Chapman and Raisel Iglesias in that they are all power arms with a relieving background. In all three cases, as well, the Reds have made early noise about converting the young players into starting pitchers. Of course, Chapman has yet to see any rotation work in Cincinnati, and the temptation will be strong to slot Iglesias into a long relief role if the Reds’ current starters continue to perk along as they have lately.
For his part, Howard was the 19th overall pick, and his contract saves the Reds about $100K over the slotted value for that pick. He will join a pitching pipeline that Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com calls one of the best in professional baseball, which bodes well for the Reds’ future.
After all, as the saying goes, you can never have too much pitching or too many baseball games to watch.