On Thursday night, top pitching prospect Spencer Howard was phenomenal over three innings in his second intrasquad outing of summer camp. He struck out three and allowed only two base runners all night. More importantly, Howard showed he can make hitters look silly with his breaking pitches.
His performance made both Phillies fans and Bryce Harper giddy with excitement. Harper commented on Howard and the possibility of him being on the roster early on in the season on his Twitch stream.
“If Spencer Howard isn’t starting in our rotation by Game 6 in New York against the New York Yankees, there’s a problem,” Harper said. “That’s all I’m saying. I think it’s five days and you get an extra year out of him this year. So he would be my No. 6 starter in Yankee Stadium.”
Harper is referring to how the Phillies can secure an extra year of team control over Howard if they keep him down for a set amount of time. They’ll forgo a start from Howard to possibly reap the benefits of having a solid young pitcher at a discount for an extra year, pending any dramatic changes in the next collective bargaining agreement. The actual number of days Howard would have to spend in Lehigh Valley for the Phillies to retain another year is six instead of five. That clock starts on July 23, so Harper is right in that the team can start Howard as soon as Game 6 in New York if they choose to keep Howard down for service time reasons.
Many around the Phillies organization are high on the 23-year-old, including pitching coach Bryan Price. In his media availability with reporters, Price mentioned that workload is key for Howard.
“If he is the guy we think he, and we do, he’s going to have a really nice future in Philadelphia,” Price said.” But at some point in time, he has to develop a workload. Last year was shortened by injury on the front end. Workload is important and if he doesn’t make the team out of spring training, then he’ll be getting workload in Lehigh Valley.
Price hopes that at some point, Howard pitches in a meaningful game for the Phillies in 2020.
“I would really hope and expect to see him pitching here, if not on Opening Day. At some point in time, he really needs to work and I think he’s ready to compete at this level.”
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