Spencer Howard Progressing Quickly
Several weeks before the 2017 draft, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz flew to Southern California to check out some of the players the team was considering talking in the first round. Area scout Shane Bowers urged Almaraz to carve some time in his schedule to head over to UCLA to check out a kid from Cal Poly who was pitching against the Bruins.
The kid was Spencer Howard. Almaraz quickly saw what Bowers liked.
"He ate those UCLA hitters up,” Almaraz recalled. "After that, I knew that was the guy we were going to focus on for the second round.”
Just to be sure, Almaraz had fellow front office officials Darrell Conner and Bart Braun peek in on Howard. They both liked the talent that Bowers had initially identified. The Phillies selected Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley in the first round of that draft and then snagged Howard in the second round.
Howard didn’t get a chance to start at Cal Poly until his junior year, so he’s a fresh arm and a bit of a late bloomer. He has quickly vaulted up the Phillies’ prospect chart, however, showing improved stuff and pitching aptitude. He recorded a 3.78 ERA and struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings in 23 starts at low Class A Lakewood last season and impressed club officials by getting stronger as the season went on.
In his final two starts—both in the South Atlantic League playoffs—he allowed just three hits, one walk and one run in 14 innings while striking out 15 batters. One of those starts was a nine-inning no-hitter in which he walked one, struck out nine and touched 100 mph while throwing 103 pitches.
On his current track, Howard will get an important test in Double-A at some point this season, and organization officials believe the 6-foot-3 and 212-pound righthander has the potential to pitch in the top half of a big league rotation in the future.
"He’s a power guy with four plus pitches and at times they’re all wipeout,” said Brad Bergeson, Howard’s pitching coach each of the past two seasons. "All of them—fastball, curveball, slider, changeup—he’s got an unbelievable arsenal. The sky is the limit. It’s a special arm.”