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Reds pick Virginia closer in 1st round

Reds pick Virginia closer in 1st round

  • Updated

The Cincinnati Reds selected Virginia closer Nick Howard with the 19th pick in the first round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Thursday night.

Howard, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander, is 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 19 saves for the Cavaliers. He has 50 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.

Howard was a starter up until this season for the Cavaliers. According to multiple scouting reports, he has a fastball that reaches the upper 90s in his relief outings and averages in the low 90s for his starts.

A two-way player, Howard also plays the infield at Virginia and has a .261 batting average in 153 at-bats.

The Reds likely drafted Howard with the intention of returning him to his starter's roots. Cincinnati did the same with Tony Cingrani, who was the closer at Rice when the Reds drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft.

Cingrani, who is currently in the Reds starting rotation, made 13 starts for the Billings Mustangs in 2011.

There was no immediate word on where the Reds would assign Howard to start his professional career if and when he signs a contract with the Reds.

Virginia opens Super Regional play against Maryland on Saturday. The game starts at 10 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

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