Phillies: Three players who will break out in 2021

Spencer Howard #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Spencer Howard #48 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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The 2021 Philadelphia Phillies season — the second under World Series-winning manager Joe Girardi, and the first under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld — is closer than it seems.

Here are three players who are poised to have a breakout year.

3. Spencer Howard, RHP

Top Phillies pitching prospect Spencer Howard is a much better pitcher than the 1-2, 5.92 ERA and 1.644 WHIP ratio showing he posted across six starts and 24 1/3 innings in his 2020 rookie season. It is difficult to attribute what exactly went wrong for Howard. Although, there is proof that his fastball velocity was noticeably slower, deeper into games. The former second-round draft pick failed to pitch more than five innings, and only completed the fifth frame once — an eventual 8-6 home win against the Washington Nationals.

Could the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown off Howard? The right-hander thinks so. “I think for me, when I’m at my best mentally is when I feel like I’ve been preparing super hard. And so when I wasn’t able to really prepare how I normally would for the year, it kind of derailed everything about baseball for me,” Howard recently told The Athletic. “And so that was what I was trying to navigate last year. Going out and competing, even though I didn’t feel my best, physically or mentally.”

“So that was a trip,” Howard continued. “But I’m glad that it’s over and got it under my belt. And I learned a lot from it.”

With that positive thinking in the back of his mind heading into spring training, the second-best thing that could have happened to Howard this offseason is the hiring of new Phillies pitching coach Caleb Cotham. During his introductory press conference, Cotham said his main goals are to serve the players, maximize strengths, and find something to help them get better.

“We have a young pitching coach with a ton of knowledge that understands what it’s like to be on that rubber all by yourself and to go through good times and bad times,” Girardi said.

Howard sure went through more bad times than good this past season. Cotham will surely try to unlock his full potential and yield a breakout 2021 season out of the right-hander.