For the first time since 2000, the Philadelphia Phillies used their top pick to draft a college bat with the selection of outfielder Adam Haseley out of Virginia at eighth overall and as predicted, they went with pitching with their second round pick. The Phillies selected right-handed pitcher, Spencer Howard out of Cal Poly, who was initially a reliever, but transitioned to a starter this past season.
Howard started 12 of 17 games this season, posting an 8-1 record with a Big West leading 1.95 ERA and was top five in strikeouts (97), complete games (1), and strikeouts per nine (9.96). Howard was named to the first team of the Big West All-Conference team, named second team All-American by Collegiate College Baseball Newspaper last week, and earned the team’s Mike Krukow Outstanding Pitcher Award.
The belief is Howard can become a front-line starter, which surely could happen considering what Howard brings to the table. He showcases an above-average fastball (93-94 MPH consistently), a slider that looks to be a plus pitch, an upper 80’s cutter, and he has a feel for his change-up. His strong 6’3 frame, clean delivery, and ability to pound the strike zone gives complete confidence that he can become a front-line starter with some longevity as well.
Despite being only a sophomore, Howard had eligibility for the draft because he redshirted in the 2015 season and was a third-year team member of Cal Poly. Interestingly enough, the Phillies viewed Howard as the draft’s best right-handed pitcher, even though he was ranked only the 99th best prospect by MLB.com and 148th by Baseball America. The Phillies made a bold move by taking Howard in the second round and there is some speculation that it could have been an under-slot deal to save money for later, but who knows.
The Phillies do not expect to have any trouble signing Adam Haseley or Spencer Howard and both are expected to go to Class A with the Lakewood BlueClaws upon signing, where they will join 2016 draft picks Mickey Moniak, JoJo Romero, Darick Hall, Trevor Bettencourt, Grant Dyer, Will Hibbs, David Martinelli, and Brett Barbie.