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.