Howard, a 6'3" 215 lb 21 year-old, has spent time as both a starting pitcher and a closer for the Cavaliers, and while his repertoire as a reliever already projects as one that would be successful at the Major League level, there's no way the Reds would have drafted him this early unless they were convinced he could develop into a future starting pitcher. Howard did not start a single game in 2014, however, though he was dominant as a reliever going 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA, .184 batting average against, 19 saves, and 50 strikeouts in just 29 IP.
There seems to be a general consensus that this was a safe pick, as Howard has a clean delivery, an electric fastball that touched 98 mph as a reliever, and very little wear and tear on his arm. Considering it's a bit of an overdraft, there's a decent likelihood he was selected with an under-slot signing in mind in order for the Reds to put that saved money towards over-drafting a player with pick #29.
As for where Howard was ranked before the draft:
- As recently as May 29th, Prospect Insider didn't even consider Howard as a potential 1st round pick, and referred to him as simply "closer."
- In his pre-draft rankings, ESPN's Keith Law ranked Howard as his 63rd best prospect in the draft.
- In Jim Callis' final mock draft for MLB.com, he had Howard going 23rd overall to the Detroit Tigers.
- Baseball America's John Manuel was the highest on Howard, projecting him as going 15th overall to the Los Angeles Angels.