As the offseason nears its end, we’re profiling the top prospects in the Indians organization. Today, we continue our countdown with No. 2: Dillon Howard.
While Cleveland fans mourn the loss of former top pitching prospects Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, they should start to get more excited for the latest addition to the future starting five: Dillon Howard.
The Tribe’s second-round pick in the 2011 MLB draft, the 19-year-old high school product broke the mold of the pitcher the Indians usually take with their early picks.
Many projected Howard to go in the latter half of the first round, but many teams passed on him in both the first round and the supplemental rounds. This has nothing to do with Howard’s ability; rather, it was a reflection of the strength of the 2011 draft class and his perceived unsignability. He slipped this year though because of his commitment to Arkansas and because he was advised by Scott Boras. Despite this, the Indians were able to ink Howard right at the deadline.
At 6’4″ and 210 pounds, Howard has the perfect frame for a front-line starter and the repertoire to match. Howard’s main weapon is his hard sinking fastball that can touch 95, as well as a well-developed change-up for a high schooler. Howard also throws a curveball, but has trouble controlling it. If he can get that together, it should be a nice offering for him.
Thanks to his solid three-pitch offering, Howard was widely considered the best pitcher to ever come out of his home state of Arkansas. It also helped him put out gaudy strikeout numbers as he fanned 118 batters in only 58 innings.
Obviously, Howard will never put up numbers like that in the pros, but expecting him to be a front-line starter—if not an ace—isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Since he signed late, Howard was unable to get a jump start on his professional career, but 2012 should begin his climb to the top of the Indians rotation.