Six years ago, Theo Epstein called his shot.
During the Jackie Robinson West victory rally, the Cubs president of baseball operations took the Millennium Park stage to congratulate JRW on its United States title in the Little League World Series.
"Keep playing the game of baseball," Epstein said, "keep grinding, keep working in school, go to college, do your thing, and we'll see you in the draft in about 2023."
He was just a few years off. On Wednesday, the Cubs selected Ed Howard IV with the No. 16 overall pick. The Mount Carmel High School graduate was the star shortstop on that 2014 Jackie Robinson West team and had shared the Millennium Park stage with Epstein six years earlier.
— Krista Ruch (@KristaCBS2) June 11, 2020
Earlier in his speech, Epstein told the JRW All-Stars that the Cubs had closely followed their historic Little League World Series run. Jackie Robinson West became the first all-black team to win the US championship. But months after the victory parade and rally, the team would be stripped of its title for violating Little League's residency rules.
The night of the U.S. Championship game, the Cubs had an hours long rain delay.
"Our entire team was gathered around a TV set, hanging on every pitch," Epstein said. "They were 12 years old themselves, watching you guys play. And when you turned that double play to end it, they were celebrating like they had just won the World Series."
Guess who closed that game on the mound and fielded a comebacker to turn the game-winning double play? Future Cubs draft pick Ed Howard.
How Theo Epstein's 2014 prediction came true when Cubs drafted Ed Howard originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago