When will Spencer Howard, the Philadelphia Phillies top pitching prospect, make his major league debut? With Spring Training looming – and Howard invited to major league camp – that question is at the forefront of the minds of Phillies fans.
This proved true on Tuesday night at the Baseballtown Winter Caravan at the Crowne Plaza Reading, as a fan decided to ask new Phillies manager Joe Girardi if Howard will be with the big-league team in 2020 and how he could help the team during a question and answer session.
Girardi laughed and mentioned that this was probably a better question for assistant general manager Scott Proefrock, who was also onstage. The manager then went on to say that he is not sure exactly when Howard will be in the major leagues. Girardi did say that the right-hander is someone that can help the Phillies at some point this upcoming season and that fans should be excited for him.
He then noted that Howard was coming off an injury and only pitched around 100 innings in 2019. Girardi said that the 23-year-old could only be available to pitch 140-150 innings this season, to which Proefrock chimed in that he could possibly pitch even fewer:
Howard, a second-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, battled a shoulder injury last season that only allowed him to throw 99.1 innings across three minor-league levels and the Arizona Fall League. He was extremely effective in those innings, posting a 2.03 ERA in the regular season and a 2.11 ERA in the Arizona Fall League.
The highest number of innings that Howard has thrown in a season was 112.0, which came in his 2018 season. So while a limit of 140-150 seems like it could be low, the truth is that Howard has never approached that type of workload in his young career.
Howard will need to build toward that workload and number of innings this upcoming season. And while he will most likely get some time in the minors in 2020, a lot of that workload could end up being with the Phillies if things go right.
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