|Spencer Howard, image- Jay Floyd|
A dominant power pitcher, Howard is the Phillies prospect to watch heading into the 2019 campaign.
In college, in his draft year/sophomore season, Howard sported an 8-1 record with a 1.95 ERA and a 10 K/9 mark over 17 appearances (12 starts) for the Mustangs. As a red shirt freshman the previous year, he posted a 2.95 ERA in 21 appearances (two starts).
After signing his first professional contract, Howard debuted with Class A short-season Williamsport, where he notched a 1-1 record with a 4.45 ERA and a .214 batting average against while striking out 40 and walking 18 in 28 1/3 innings in nine starts. Following the regular season, he participated in the Florida Instructional League.
Howard felt great levels of comfort with his Lakewood teammates last year, describing his situation as being among “good-ass dudes playing some baseball”. While there, he experienced some highs and some lows, as he notched a 1.89 ERA in four April starts, then came back down to Earth to sport an 8.79 ERA in four May starts for the BlueClaws.
He turned a corner, however, in late June. Starting with a six-inning, no-run, 10 strike out performance against Hagerstown on June 29th, Howard would post a 1.52 ERA over his final 11 starts of the regular season. The success didn’t end there, as the 22-year-old had the best day of his life in the post-season, clinching his team’s trip to the South Atlantic League finals by tossing a nine-inning no-hitter against division rival Kannapolis.
Overall, in 23 regular season starts with Lakewood, Howard tallied a 9-8 record with a 3.78 ERA with an 11.8 K/9 mark and a .240 batting average against.
Consistency with his delivery is critical for Howard and he knows that's where he ran into trouble last season. As he moves forward, this will be a key focus.
Work ethic is a standout quality for the six-foot-three 205-pounder according to Phillies developmental personnel.
Coaches also feel Howard developed a solid feel for all four of his pitches last season. His repertoire includes a blazing fastball that creeped into triple-digits at times toward the end of last season. More commonly it resides around 97-98 MPH. He’s also equipped with an exceptional cutter that resembles a slider, a curveball that features good break and a superior change up that fools opposing batters frequently.
Look for Howard to open the season with Class A Advanced Clearwater. Once he proves to have mastered the Florida State League, the challenge of the upper levels will be right around the corner for the California native. The sky is the limit for this talented competitor.
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