The Phillies’ top pitching prospect, right-hander Spencer Howard, has reportedly suffered a right knee injury and has not yet thrown in spring training.
Not even one full week has passed since Philadelphia Phillies pitchers and catchers had their first workout. Yet, one has already reportedly suffered an injury, and it just so happens to be the organization’s top pitching prospect, RHP Spencer Howard.
Howard, 23, tweaked his right knee a week ago, and has not thrown off the mound at camp in Clearwater, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen.
MRI results revealed no serious issues, however the Phillies will surely take precaution. Manager Joe Girardi told reporters that the right-hander “has been fine ever since.”
Howard, along with the team’s top hitting prospect, Alec Bohm, are projected to open the 2020 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. This past Arizona Fall League, the San Luis Obispo, California, native posted a 1-1 record, 2.11 ERA, 0.938 WHIP, and 27-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning six starts and 21 1/3 innings. His fastball, which normally tops out in the mid-90s, reached 99 miles per hour in the competition.
The Phillies hope that Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Howard are their longterm, top-three starters in the rotation. While Howard’s knee injury is not serious, his innings would have been limited anyway; he threw just 92 1/3 innings last season because of a right shoulder injury.
Surely his innings will be lessened even more this spring as a non-roster invitee. Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak recently told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, prior to the reported knee injury, that the team will go “very slow, on purpose” with Howard.
“It’s not because something is wrong and it’s not because we don’t like him,” Klentak says. “It’s because we like him a lot, and I think he has a very bright future for us and we need to set him up for success to pitch deep into the season this year.”