Minor Leagues

Bohm, Howard among those invited to major league Spring Training


Spencer Howard is one of the Phillies top prospects. (Steven Kiebach)

The Philadelphia Phillies top two prospects will be at major league Spring Training.

Monday, the Phillies announced that 15 players within the organization have been invited to open major league Spring Training with the team. The most notable of the 15 are third baseman Alec Bohm and RHP Spencer Howard.

The Phillies selected Bohm with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of Wichita State. Across three levels of the minor leagues a season ago, the 23-year-old slashed .305/.378/.518 with 21 home runs, 80 RBIs and an .896 OPS. He finished the season at Double-A Reading.

Howard, who the Phillies selected out of Cal Poly in the second round in the 2017 MLB Draft, also finished the season at Double-A Reading. In just 15 regular season starts across four levels in 2019, the 23-year-old went 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA.

Does an invitation mean that either will ultimately make the Phillies Opening Day roster? Probably not, but never say never. Even with Cesar Hernandez still in the fold, Scott Kingery kicked the door down by performing so well in 2018 Spring Training that the Phillies found a way to get him on their Opening Day roster.

Alec Bohm is the Phillies top prospect. (Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

Of course, Kingery agreed to a six-year/$24 million deal with three club options, a deal that will likely go down as one of the most team friendly pacts in MLB history. That erased any motivation by the Phillies to manipulate Kingery’s service time. (In hindsight, Kingery probably would have benefited from spending some time in Triple-A in 2018.)

If Bohm or Howard is prepared to agree to a very team-friendly long-term deal, that could perhaps increase their chances of making the Opening Day roster. From here, neither should be motivated to do so. With that, though, the Phillies may start both in Triple-A, knowing that under the current CBA, you gain a year towards free agency if you are on the active roster for 172 or more days of baseball’s 187-day season.

Service time concerns aside, neither Bohm or Howard has ever played at Triple-A. When the Phillies decided Kingery was ready to play at the major league level, he had played in 63 games with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Even if both Bohm and Howard are close to being ready to play at the major league level, both could probably benefit from some extra seasoning in the minors.

The Phillies will need to be careful with how much they push Howard in 2020. There’s a case to be made that the team won’t have a real chance to win a highly-competitive National League East if he doesn’t come up and bolster the Phillies staff at some point this season. However, a shoulder injury limited him to less than 100 total innings in 2019, even when you factor in that he pitched for Double-A Reading in the playoffs. He did pitch 21.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League, but the Phillies need to be cautious with how big of an innings jump they have Howard undergo in 2020.

Former No. 1 overall pick Mickey Moniak is among the other names that have been invited to major league Spring Training. RHP Connor Brogdon, LHP Kyle Dohy, LHP Tyler Gilbert, first baseman Darick Hall, LHP Damon Jones, catcher Henri Lartigue, first baseman/outfielder Austin Listi, shortstop Nick Maton, RHP Ramon Rosso, RHP Addison Russ, LHP Zach Warren and infielder/outfielder Luke Williams were also invited to big league camp.

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