Rangers Will Take Patient Approach With Spencer Howard
The Rangers landed seven prospects at the trade deadline in deals with the Phillies and Yankees, though it cost Texas its best player (Joey Gallo), its best starting pitcher (Kyle Gibson), closer (Ian Kennedy) and a pitching prospect (Hans Crouse).
Four prospects arrived in the Gallo deal with the Yankees. The rest came from the Phillies, including the headliner of the total deadline haul.
Righthander Spencer Howard’s stock might have fallen this season in Philadelphia, but the Rangers believe they bought low on the 25-year-old, who entered the season as the Phillies’ No. 1 prospect.
The Rangers plan to let the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Howard work as a starter the rest of the season after not having a defined role with the Phillies. The goal is to build his pitch count up to as high as 80 pitches after he never broke 68 in Philadelphia this season.
Rangers president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said the Rangers likely would not have been able to acquire Howard without his struggles in Philadelphia. He had run up a 5.72 ERA in 28.1 innings.
The Rangers included Crouse, their 2017 second-rounder, to ensure they could land Howard.
They see the same stuff that made Howard one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. His fastball sits at 94 mph, but the 2017 second-rounder from Cal Poly has more when he needs it. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup that are above-average to plus.
Howard's velocity dip, though, is a legitimate concern. The Rangers don’t expect to let him go beyond 80 pitches the rest of the season but want to see him get past the three- and four-inning threshold that held him back with the Phillies.
The Rangers also don't want to push Howard too much. They want to ensure he stays healthy—he has some past shoulder issues—and can start strong at spring training.
While out of contention and in a rebuilding phase, the Rangers have a luxury that the Phillies did not.
— Center fielder Evan Carter, the Rangers’ No. 8 prospect, was in Arizona to continue recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back. The goal is for the 2020 second-rounder to return to Low-A Down East in early September.
— Two orthopedists recommended rest and rehabilitation as the course of treatment for righthander Tekoah Roby’s sprained elbow ligament rather than Tommy John surgery. Roby, a 2020 third-round pick, went 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA at Down East in the first six starts of his pro career.