The Phillies skipped over a college pitcher in the first round of the draft despite a clamoring from the fans for a college arm. Instead, they went with one in the second round, selecting Spencer Howard from Cal Poly.
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Howard pitched two seasons with Cal Poly after redshirting his freshman year. He worked out of the bullpen in 2016 but split time in 2017 as a reliever and a starter. He had a 1.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.96 K/9, and 2.36 BB/9 in 17 games this season.
Howard has two above-average offerings in his fastball and slider. His cutter has the looks of being average, and he works in a changeup as well. Howard throws strikes consistently and control shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Where I object to this pick is how early the team picked Howard.
He was ranked No. 99 overall by MLB.com and No. 137 by Baseball America. Howard very well could have been available in the third round and his slot value would have been even lower.
Almaraz said that Howard “has the chance to be a frontline starter” and that signing him shouldn’t be an issue. That is good to hear, but drafting a guy in the second round so signing picks in later rounds is easier doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why reach for a player who you could get later on instead of getting someone who won’t be there later?