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Spencer Howard fans 10 in Double-A debut

Howard has developed into the Phillies top pitching prospect. (Cheryl Pursell)

While the Philadelphia Phillies were getting handled by the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, one of their top prospects dazzled in their Double-A debut. Ranked as the organization’s fifth best prospect by MLB Pipeline, right-hander Spencer Howard took the hill for his first Double-A start on Friday and picked up right where he left off when he was in Clearwater.

Howard wasted no time getting to work in the first inning, striking out the side on 11 pitches.

In the second inning, his command wasn’t what it was in the first as he walked two batters as he allowed a hit and a run. He still struck out three to retire the side, though. In the third inning, Howard struck out two more before earning two more K’s in the fourth and fifth.

All in all, Howard hurled 4.2 innings, gave up a run on four hits, walked two and struck out 10. This is the sixth start of the season where Howard has struck out seven or more batters. He threw 82 pitches, 55 of which were strikes.

Howard is rising up through the Phillies organization after being shelved for over two months this season. He started the 2019 campaign with Advanced ‘A’ Clearwater, but hit the injured list due to shoulder soreness from the end of April until the end of June.

Howard began ramping back up on June 27 in the GCL before returning to Clearwater for three starts. In those three outings combined, the 22-year-old didn’t allow a run in 15 innings and struck out 18 while issuing just one walk. Those three starts were enough for the Phillies to promote Howard to Double-A, where he fared well in his first trip to the mound.

Howard is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 starts this season between the Gulf Coast League, Clearwater and Reading. He’s struck out 66 and walked just nine in 45 innings.

The Phillies selected Howard in the second round (45th overall) in the 2017 MLB Draft out of Cal Poly. He’s made 42 starts in the Phillies minor league system to this point, posting a 3.40 ERA. Last season with Class ‘A’ Lakewood, Howard tossed a no-hitter in the playoffs.

Howard’s next start will either come on the road in Bowie on July 31 or at home in Reading over the weekend of August 2, when the Altoona Curve visit Baseballtown.

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