The Cincinnati Reds have released 2014 1st round pick Nick Howard. The right-handed pitcher had a fine debut after the draft in 2014, jumping straight to Low-A Dayton where he split time starting and relieving, throwing 33.2 innings with a 3.74 ERA. He would go pitch in the Arizona Fall League that October, making 6 more starts and throwing 20.1 innings.

It was the next season when things began to go south for the former Virginia Cavalier. He moved up to join the Daytona Tortugas as a starter in 2014, but he couldn’t find the strikezone. Through five starts he had walked 23 batters in 18.2 innings and was shifted into the bullpen by mid-May. The move didn’t help cure the yips. Over the next 2 months he walked 27 batters with just 14 strikeouts in 19.1 innings before being placed on the disabled list in mid-July. He didn’t return that season.

In 2016 is was more of the same as Nick Howard struggled through the yips and couldn’t find the strikezone. After 20.0 innings he was placed on the disabled list and this time wound up needing shoulder surgery that would cost him the second half and all of 2017, too.

He returned to the mound in 2018, spending time in both Daytona and Pensacola. His time in Pensacola was much better than his time in Daytona. Over 18.0 innings in Double-A he posted a 3.00 ERA with 7 walked and 12 strikeouts, while allowing just one home run.

This season he only pitched in 3 games, all for Double-A Chattanooga. He made his first appearance on May 30th and his final appearance came on June 4th. On the 9th of June he was assigned to the Greeneville Reds roster, though he was never with the team and it was just a procedural move as players have to actually be assigned to rosters somewhere.

50 Responses

  1. Wes

    Howard the duck. May u have better fortunes in your future endeavors

  2. RojoBenjy

    Well that didn’t end like anyone hopes for.

    Doug, any chance another team takes a look at him? Or should he retire?

  3. Redsvol

    that was a mighty big miss by the scouting and draft department. A small market team simply can’t miss on those first rounders.

    • Gaffer

      Some people will say you can’t foresee his issue with control, but let’s be clear. He was the 54th best prospect on BA coming into the draft. He was mediocre as a starter for UVA until they moved him to the bullpen where he still gave up tons of HR, but had a lot of saves. Then the Reds rushed him to pitch right after the college season and then he went to the AFI the same year. Worse they went back and forth as a starter and reliever! That is bad scouting and bad development.

      • Gilbert Keith Chesterton

        “He was mediocre as a starter for UVA until they moved him to the bullpen where he still gave up tons of HR”

        I’m not sure giving up 3 HR’s in 37 IP’s qualifies as TONS of home runs? Unless each home run weight about 700 lbs. His rate of allowed HR’s was no different than Lodolo.

        Granted, as a prospect he wasn’t worth a pick in the top 20, and he wasn’t very good as a pro.

        It seems that the tendency is just to give him a pass because he got the yips, and totally overlook that he was a reach in the draft who wasn’t all that good before he forgot how to throw strikes.

    • Doug Gray

      This is a bad take and I’m so tired of hearing it. The next time someone predicts a guy gets the yips will be the first time. It’s literally impossible to sit here and say “they should have totally seen that one coming”. It’s crazy talk.

      • Gaffer

        So his overuse his draft year could not have contributed to an injury that led to a loss in control? Particularly doing both long and short outings. Maybe we can’t blame the reds for him totally flaming out, that’s fair. But he was not a celebrated pick by anyone at the time and his ceiling was pretty low for the 19th pick. Granted the draft that year was weak, but you hope there was a plan to develop him to maximize value.

      • Doug Gray

        There was no injury the led to the control issue. He had the yips.

      • Oldtimer

        Besides his 1971 World Series performance, Steve Blass (Pirates) is best known for his sudden and inexplicable loss of control after the 1972 season. His ERA climbed to 9.85 in the 1973 season, during which he walked 84 batters in ?88 2?3 innings, and struck out only 27. After spending most of 1974 in the minor leagues, he retired from baseball in March 1975.

    • jon

      A lot of 1st rd. misses is why the reds have not been very good for years.Jeff Gelalich,Blandino,ervin,travieso,Lotzkar, stephenson(2).All the good ones are gone,grandal,boxberger,alonso etc.etc.

      • Oldtimer

        Reds were excellent throughout 1970s. 2 WS titles, 4 NL pennants, 6 NL playoffs in 10 years. Here were their first round draft picks:

        1970 Gary Polczynski Shortstop Nathan Hale High School
        (West Allis, Wisconsin) 15
        1971 Mike Miley* Shortstop East Jefferson High School
        (Kenner, Louisiana) 24
        1972 Larry Paine Right-handed pitcher Huntsville High School
        (Huntsville, Texas) 7
        1973 Charles Kessler Outfielder Claremont High School
        (Claremont, California) 22
        1974 Steve Reed Right-handed pitcher Fort Wayne High School
        (Fort Wayne, Indiana) 23
        1975 Tony Moretto Outfielder William Henry Harrison High School
        (Evansville, Indiana) 22
        1976 Mark King Right-handed pitcher Owensboro High School
        (Owensboro, Kentucky) 23
        1977 Tad Venger Third baseman Hart High School
        (Newhall, California) 24
        1978 Nick Esasky Shortstop Carol City High School
        (Opa-locka, Florida) 17
        1979 Dan Lamar Catcher Bellaire High School
        (Houston, Texas) 20[a]
        1979 Mike Sullivan Right-handed pitcher Clemson University
        (Clemson, South Carolina) 22

  4. NLP

    Something about that old adage that you don’t waste 1st round picks on college relievers comes to mind with this move

      • Gilbert Keith Chesterton

        Of the 20 college relievers who were drafted in the top five rounds from 2013-2017, only two of them (one being Michael Lorenzen) had a significant MLB career.

        Lorenzen is the outlier.

        Guys like Ryan Wagner, Tyler Jay, Chad Cordero, and Nick Howard are the norm.

      • RojoBenjy

        Agreed. I just couldn’t resist.

        Tacky I know

  5. DaveCT

    Nick apparently was decent as an offensive player in college. I hope he catches on somewhere, perhaps with a return to the field and hitting. It’s got to be crushing for him to go through all of this. To his credit, he kept up the effort.

    • Gilbert Keith Chesterton

      It looks like Howard slashed 0.261 / 0.314 / 0.333 in his junior year at Virginia, with a career K to BB rate of more than 2.5 to 1, with only 4 HR’s in over 400 AB’s.

  6. Cguy

    You gotta admire the Reds. After Travieso & Howard, using a first round pick to draft a pitcher named Nick (Lodolo ?) may have given another organization cause for concern. I’m not saying the better pick, but perhaps the safer pick may have been a college position player. Especially given the success rate of the Reds developing ML SP.

    • Champ Summers

      Right. A guys name is certainly a predictor of future success. One guy was a HS pitcher who was controlled by daddy to ensure he stayed healthy. The other was an effective college reliever taken a little too high imo and the other was the consensus Number one pitcher in the draft out of college. All of this is silly, the baseball draft and any amateur draft is a crapshoot. All of this is silly, the baseball draft and any amateur draft is a crapshoot Who knows who actually pans out or not

      • Cguy

        My comment was meant to be arbitrary, with a tinge of sarcasm for exactly that reason. I still maintain drafting college position players in the first round is slightly above crapshoot status.

  7. Haven

    I know you’ll crush yourself playing this game but passing on gore hurts a lot looking now l.

  8. Ricky Spanish

    Billy Sweetwiener made a pretty good point and you delete his comment? Thought this site was above Facebook/Twitter bs.

    • RojoBenjy

      I bet you and he have identical IP addresses.

      • Doug Gray

        Amazingly enough, THEY DO HAVE THE EXACT SAME IP ADDRESS….

    • Doug Gray

      When you make up an account name like Billy Sweetwiener, I’m just going to delete your post because it’s very clear what you are here to do and it’s not have an actual conversation.

  9. wutinthehail

    Weren’t some teams looking to draft him as a position player? If that’s the case why didn’t they give him a shot at a position when it was clear the pitching thing wasn’t going to work out?

  10. Redsvol

    I think the reds scouting folks tried to get “cute” for several years with first rounders and it has bitten them badly. Would have been nice to see different decisions than Boxberger, Nick Travieso, and Nick Howard.

    Pick the guy with the highest upside that has a track record to prove it. Don’t dream of what they could become at a different position unless its after round 10. I know some high school coaches are fools but in general there is a valid reason kids get put into the position they graduate from. 1st round decisions have been much more solid the last 7 years and its starting to show in first rounders actually making it to bigs.

    • B-town fan

      Ah, I think Boxberger has had a pretty nice career, I wouldn’t lump him in with the other two you mentioned.

    • RojoBenjy

      Hopefully these are the reasons there was turnover in the scouting department recently.

  11. Amarillo

    Reminder to everyone that the MLB draft is a dartboard.

  12. Keith

    I just looked at the first round draft results on Wikipedia. Not exactly a non-stop highlight reel. Made me feel a little better about the miss here. It’s not like there were five future hall of famers picked with the next five picks. I vaguely remember not being a huge fan of the pick, but it was also fun to be paying much more attention to the successful big-league team at the time! I love having low first round draft picks, because it means the team isn’t terrible!

    • jon vera

      yet teams like the dodgers and cards and braves keep cranking out better picks.

      • Amarillo

        Ok, let’s look at the top picks of those teams from that year:

        LA-Grant Holmes
        Just got to AA in the As organization.

        Braves-Braxton Davidson
        Hasn’t gotten past A+, in three seasons in A+ he is OPSing below .700

        Cardinals- Luke Weaver
        Has 54 major league starts with a career WAR of 0.7. Now in the Dbacks org.

        The draft is a crapshoot.

  13. Jim Walker

    Lorenzen and Howard were both drafted when the Reds were in panic mode because all their starters except Bailey were going to be out of contract over a 2 year period (or thereabouts).

    From what I’ve read over the years, Lorenzen was more of a reach as a starter than Howard.

    Lorenzen was a CF who came in from the outfield to be closer. In fact virtually all orgs except the Reds were projecting him as a an outfielder and saw the possibility of him being a reliever as a fall back because of some concerns about his hitting. Most saw him as a late 2nd round to mid 3rd round pick. The Reds clearly concerned he would be gone by their 2nd round pick used a 1st round competitive balance pick (#38 overall) to draft him. (ah for the days the Reds weren’t at the top of the draft)

    Howard on the other hand as cited above actually had some history as a starting pitcher in college and being a position guys was a secondary job for him.
    I was told by a person in a position to know whose opinion I trust that UVA was extremely strong and deep at starting pitching and that played a major role in Howard being used as reliever in his last year at UVA. Whether a team should risk a #1 pick on a guy who didn’t hold his rotation spot in college I guess is another question.

    • JoeHoo

      His junior year UVa was incredibly deep. Nathan Kirby who was a 1st Round selection of the Brewers, Josh Sborz who made his debut with the Dodgers last week, Brandon Waddell who is I believe in Triple A with the Pirates, Alec Bettinger was the midweek starter (Double A lIndians). Karl Kuhn the UVa pitching coach has had history if taking a starter and converting to a closer role and vice verse. Brandon Kline now with the O’s is another expample. He has traditionally liked to be able to give the ball to those guys midgame in big games and tell them “Go shut it down.” That was really the case with Nick. His stuff his junior year was so good that Kuhn wanted him to have that ball as often as needed rather than once a week.

      I don’t really remember him much as a position player. But he had the perfect mentality and stuff to be a closer. I was pretty surprised the Reds decided to go the starter route with him.

    • Bill

      A lot of college teams slot their top 3 arms as follows: Friday night starter, Saturday night starter and closer. The Sunday and midweek starters are often less talented than top relievers. The goal in college is to win as many weekend conference series as possible, so teams manage their rosters around trying to win on Friday and Saturday night.

      • JoeHoo

        Virginia had the best staff in the country in 2014 so even the Sunday Starter was a beast. The team had a 2.23 ERA that year.

  14. The Duke

    Wasn’t a fan of the pick at the time (was never high on thinking guys college teams moved out of starting were primed to go back to starting) but was definitely pulling for him. Now the guy I was real high on in that draft was Forrest Wall, and he’s still in AA at 23 after being a high school pick with fairly middling results so far, but he does have an .800 OPS so far this year and has shown good plate discipline. 20/20 hindsight says we should have taken Alex Verdugo, Brent Honeywell, Michael Kopech, Jack Flaherty, or Luke Weaver, but i’d be lying if I said I was pushing for any of those guys at the time. Didn’t know who most of them ever were.

    • RojoBenjy

      I looked at the 2014 draft yesterday, also. You’re so right there aren’t any first rounders taken after Howard that would make you wince. Weaver good but he wasn’t a can’t miss.

    • AirborneJayJay

      Guys like Matt Chapman (#25-A’s), Michael Chavis (#26-Red Sox) and Cole Tucker (#24-Pirates) are not chopped liver. Chapman would have made a huge difference. That draft was about 6 months prior to the Reds obtaining Eugenio Suarez. One of those 3B could have taken up residence in LF.

  15. Kelly

    Drafts are hard. Big swing and a miss but Reds are hardly the first and won’t be the last.

    • Doug Gray

      We have a different definition of the word fun….

    • Amarillo

      All 5 of those were selected by Jim Bowden right?

  16. Haven

    I see a lot of people saying the drafts a crapshoot etc. I don’t really care it’s their job. They’ve done much better in the past couple years even finding guys in later rounds. If you aren’t going to spend big money on free agents then you can’t blow a draft.

  17. Martino Amello

    And all this time I thought it crazy to even vote for a guy with the name of Wiener. People do strange things, huh?

  18. Martino Amello

    It has always seemed to me the best players are usually drafted somewhere like the 32nd round or somewhere in that zipcode.. I would really hate to make my living by predicting the outcomes of teenage boys lives and talents. About the only truly successful predictor about that age/gender group in general might be masturbation (Not that I would know anything about that in my own teenage years) and nobody is paying the big bucks for the top performers in that group..