With the start of baseball less than a week away, teams are beginning to hold split-squad games at their respective ballparks. The Phillies are no exception, as the team has already played three such games. There is more than one young arm in camp that fans are clamoring to see (Damon Jones comes to mind), but yesterday was all about Spencer Howard.
Howard – who will be 24 in eleven days – was expected to join the rotation at some point, were the season to be a full one. It is unlikely that Spencer Howard will make the Opening Day roster, seeing as how the Phillies will gain an extra year of control should they keep him off the active roster for five regular season days. One of Nick Pivetta or Vince Velasquez will almost certainly seize the fifth starter position, according to Joe Girardi. The new skipper also stated that if Howard does not appear in the rotation this season, we will certainly see him out of the bullpen.
With that said, Thursday belonged to Spencer Howard. The right-hander tossed three scoreless innings yesterday to go along with two walks and three strikeouts. He only allowed one hit on the day.
Stats don’t tell the whole story, however, as Howard’s outing certainly passed the eye test. The movement on his curve-ball was absolutely ridiculous, causing Rhys Hoskins to swing out of his shoes at one point.
Check out the location (and pitch framing) on this one.
“I think we saw some electric stuff the first couple innings,” said Joe Girardi in regards to Howard.
MLB.com currently slots Spencer Howard as the second best prospect in the organization (behind Alec Bohm) and #34 in all of baseball. The 2017 second round pick spent most of the 2020 season with either high A Clearwater or AA Reading. He was successful with both, posting a WHIP of 0.83 over 15 starts.
In six starts with AA Reading, Howard went 32 & 2/3 innings while allowing just eight earned runs. He struck out 38 in his brief AA stint while yielding a remarkable WHIP of 0.95. He also posted an opposing batting average of just .180. This is especially impressive considering how much of a hitter’s paradise the Eastern League can be.
Don’t tell that to Spencer Howard though, as he had nothing but success in Reading. Now that he’s bringing this type of tier one stuff at the MLB level, the hype train has certainly left the station.