"At first I was shocked because I had no idea I was being shopped by the Reds," said Kevin Howard
when asked about the off-season trade. "My only concern was learning my new role within this organization."
Thunder Manager Bill Masse believes the transition for Howard has been smooth, however he is still getting to know him as a player and as a person.
"Kevin's a tough guy to read sometimes, sometimes he's intense, sometimes he's out of control, and then sometimes he's in complete control," said manager Bill Masse. "The best way to describe Kevin is he's a very cerebral player, he's always thinking about his next move."
The University of Miami product has always been a terrific average hitter, batting .289 in his first three professional seasons, including an Arizona Fall League batting title in 2005 where he complied a .409 average.
"My strengths as a ball-player are my abilities to hit for average, hit with runners in scoring position, and hit with two strikes," added Howard.
Howard's approach at the plate is often unorthodox but you can't argue with the results he's had when being in the lineup day in and day out.
"His greatest strength as a hitter is his plate discipline," observed Masse. "Every now and then he'll have an at-bat where he seems out of control but for the most part when he steps into the box, he is in complete control," observed Masse.
During his time at Miami, Howard was a starting third basemen and a part-time shortstop. But with the emergence of young third base phenom Edwin Encarnacion, Cincinnati moved Howard to an uncomfortable position at second base.
"Honestly, I know my biggest liability as a player is my defensive ability," said Howard. "Cincy wanted to move me to second base but I never really got comfortable turning double-plays despite all the work I was putting in."
Bill Masse has moved Howard back to third to start the season but he is still destined to be a utility player in the Yankee organization.
"He's got a very untraditional throwing motion but so far this season he's been able to get the job done, he's actually made a handful of great plays so far this season," said Masse. "The majority of the time he'll be at third but he will still get a lot of work over at second."
"As a player I try not to set statistical goals," concluded Howard. "My mind set is to improve defensively, and have a quality plate appearance each time I step into the batters box."
Despite the season being only twelve games old, Howard has been a big hit in the clubhouse because of his hard work and great rapport with teammates.
"Kevin's a great player and teammate, and as long as he keeps doing all the things he's been doing to this point in his career, he'll go a long way in this game," said outfielder Vince Faison
Will the glove catch up with the bat? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure though, hard work and preparation won't be an issue.
Acquired along with outfielder Ben Himes from Cincinnati for utility man Tony Womack, Kevin Howard brings a potent bat to Trenton. The only question is will his defense catch up to his bat.
Coming over from the Reds, Kevin Howard hopes to make a splash in Trenton in 2006.