Phillies Take Spencer Howard With the #45 of the 2017 Draft

The Phillies had mentioned that the draft was strong in pitching and after a run of college arms to end the first and into the comp round, it looked like the board set up for the Phillies to take a high school arm. Instead they went well off the board with RHP Spencer Howard out of Cal Poly. This is the second time in recent years the Phillies have taken a starter in the second round out of Cal Poly, with the Phillies taking LHP Matt Imhof in 2014.

On the surface Howard looks like an overdraft. The highest site on him was MLB Pipeline at #99. Howard is a red shirt sophomore who turns 21 in July. He has a solid pitcher’s frame, that might have room for a bit more. His fastball sits in 92-94 range and he has shown up to 96 with good movement. His slider is his best secondary pitch, and he also has a cutter and changeup. As a reliever it looks like he could move quickly, but he may have the pitches to be a back end starter.

Had the Phillies taken Howard in the 3rd round it would have been eyebrow raising, but not out of the ordinary. In the second round it seems like an overdraft even if they like him. However, they could be looking to save money with this pick. In 2015 the Phillies took Kyle Martin in the 4th round to save money and this could be a similar move. Right now I am not a fan of the pick, but the nature of the draft means we have to see how the full thing plays out until we can fully judge it. So for now step back from the ledge, put down the pitch fork and let’s see how this plays out.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.


  1. Chris Arneson

    I read about a 6’2″ sophomore righthander with not much mileage on his arm who throws 94 consistently. He has an ERA of under 2 against aluminum bats. The Phillies scouts say that he has excellent movement on his pitches and control does not appear to be a problem.

    To me that sounds like an excellent college arm. The fact that he started the year in the pen probably explains why he was under-the-radar for most of the year. To be honest if we saw no BA rankings on him and knew nothing more than these descriptions, I’d be thrilled with the pick. I am willing to trust the scouts on him. Sounds like a solid risk to me. Maybe you are being a little too hard on him.

    • Matt Winkelman

      I don’t think the scouting report to me says 2nd round. Right now he is mostly a 2 pitch guy, which isn’t a starter. Maybe the Phillies saw the changeup better than others have reported and that drives their beliefs. But I don’t see a safe profile to be a starting pitcher, and that feels like a reach to me in the second round.

  2. Kurdt Kobeyn

    While I also feel underwhelmed with the Day 1 haul (I would have Baz at 1.8 and Enlow at 2.45), I tried to understand that this is only 2 (of 40) picks. Both picks appears below slot picks. I remember the Cubs doing the same approach back in 2014 draft and used the savings to sign up higher ceiling arms in rds 4-6.