Ed Howard, Ben Hernandez ready for MLB Draft

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With most of his senior year milestones cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mount Carmel graduate Ed Howard still has a major life event to look forward to.

“I was supposed to have prom, graduation, a state championship,” Howard said. “All things I had in my mind this year. But they kind of got taken away. But this moment, draft night, is also something I have been thinking about. I get this moment.”

As one of the top prep players in the country, the shortstop should hear his name called in the first round of the MLB Amateur Draft Wednesday night, potentially by his hometown White Sox. 

“I think it would be special,” Howard said if the White Sox select him 11th overall. “I grew up going to Sox games, playing in ACE (Amateur City Elite) program. If they draft me, it’s a great story. It’s an organization I feel like I know. If it happens I’ll be ready to play, but if it doesn’t, I will go with the flow with any organization that wants me.”

De La Salle high school pitcher Ben Hernandez is another local prospect high on draft boards.

MLB.com ranks the righthander 73rd overall, thanks to a mid-90s fastball and a changeup considered best in class.

“It’s kind of surreal, a dream come true,” Hernandez said about draft day. “I’ve been dreaming of getting drafted as a kid, potentially playing in the majors. It’s really cool.”

The Gage Park native grew up a Cubs fan, and he even pitched at Wrigley Field last summer during the Under Armor All-American Game.

“Just the history, seeing the ivy, something about it just makes me feel I’m at home,” Hernandez said of Wrigley.

Home was on his mind when Hernandez committed to the University of Illinois-Chicago to play baseball, choosing to stay close to family. Now he’ll have to decide whether to forgo college and jump straight to the pros with a lucrative signing bonus.

“I need to support my family number one,” Hernandez said. “If I have a (signing bonus) number on my mind and I have that, I know I can leave and still support them when I’m not home.”

Life-changing decisions await both Hernandez and Howard, as the moment they have dreamt about their whole lives finally becomes reality.

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