June 12, 2017
The Phillies stayed in college when the time came for them to make their second and final pick of Day One of the 2017 MLB Draft.
After selecting University of Virginia outfielder Adam Haseley with their first round pick (8th overall), the Phillies chose Cal Poly right-hander Spencer Howard in the second round (45th overall).
The 20-year-old Howard was a reliever-turned-starter at Cal Poly this season, where he went 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 17 games (12 starts), racking up 95 strikeouts while walking 23 in 87 2/3 innings. The Phillies say Howard will continue on the starter track.
Both Howard and Haseley could begin their pro careers at Low-A Lakewood once they sign (and the Phillies do not expect signability issues with either player).
“He’s a power right-hander,” Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz said of Howard. “He’s somebody who’s got everything, a delivery, he’s got the arm action, he’s got the pitches. He’s anywhere from 90-96. Pitches in that 92-93 range. He’s got a really good curveball that’s got angle, he’s got a slider, he’s got a changeup. He knows how to pitch.
“We felt that this right-hander’s fastball was one of the best in the country as far as, not measuring velocity, but measuring the action and the deception and the ability to use it. He’s somebody we ranked really high in the country, felt like he was the top right-handed arm.”
Almaraz said Phillies' west regional supervisor Darrell Conner was on Howard early this spring. After he sent a few of his top lieutenants out to continue to keep an eye on the 6-3, 205-pound right-hander, Almaraz’s interest kept growing.
“This kid just kept getting better and better and better," Almaraz said. "We felt in order to get him we were going to have to take him where we took him. You guys know that starting pitching is hard to come by. This is one of the few guys in the draft that we felt has the chance to be – there’s a lot of college pitching, but this is one of the few we felt had a chance to be a frontline guy, either a (No.) 1, 2, or 3 (starter).”
Howard was the 99th ranked prospect in the draft according to MLB.com and the 137th best according to Baseball America. Here are a portion of their respective scouting reports:
"A former walk-on ... Howard was set to play club baseball at Cal Poly after getting into the school for his academics. Instead, he made the varsity team after a fall tryout, sitting 84-85 mph at the time." – Baseball America
"While he had been a reliever initially, Howard's arm works well and he throws strikes. With a clean delivery and strong frame, he's showing more and more that he has what it takes to start, a reason why he had some helium as the spring wore on." – MLB.com
You can read more about Haseley, by the way, from our earlier story from draft night. The three-day draft continues Tuesday afternoon when the 3rd-through-10th rounds take place.
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