Former Phillies No. 1 prospect DFA’d by Giants after brutal outing

Spencer Howard's time in San Francisco might be over as he continues trying to find his way after ranking as the Phillies' top prospect just three seasons ago.
Los Angeles Angels v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Angels v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

The Philadelphia Phillies have seen their fair share of former top prospects make the jump from the minor league ranks to the bright lights of Citizens Bank Park over the years, with baseball periodicals and insiders crowning some of them future All-Stars and MVPs well before any of them have sniffed a 26-man MLB roster.

There's a certain pride and attention showered upon homegrown talent when notable prospects finally get the call, and the clock starts on day one for the players themselves to live up to the hype and expectations that sometimes carry unfair baggage. While the Phillies currently have a slew of development success stories like Aaron Nola, Alec Bohm and Bryson Stott as key pieces on the MLB roster, it's easy to forget that a number of former top prospects never panned out.

Former Phillies No. 1 prospect DFA’d by Giants after brutal outing

It's been an interesting journey for former Phillies No. 1 prospect pitcher Spencer Howard. A Phillies second-round pick in 2017, Howard was expected to become a key rotation piece for years to come. He made his debut to much fanfare, with six starts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

After appearing in 11 games for the Phillies in 2021, Howard was dealt to the Texas Rangers at the MLB trade deadline in exchange for pitchers Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy. Howard never lived up to his potential in Texas either, with a record of 2-7 and an 8.37 ERA. He was ultimately traded to the New York Yankees and later released in August 2023 after a lackluster showing in 2 2/3 innings for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate.

Howard got another chance this past offseason when he signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle's Shayna Rubin, he was designated for assignment on June 30 after giving up six earned runs and allowing six hits in 2 2/3 innings versus the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 29. Overall this season, Howard appeared in seven games (two starts), going 1-1 with a 5.63 ERA, in addition to 11 walks and 21 strikeouts in 24 innings pitched.

Spencer Howard is still only 27 years old, and with a number of notable injuries to starting pitchers around MLB this year, it's possible a team could take a flier on Howard and stash him away as depth in the upper minor league levels. It's certainly been a tough fall from grace for the former Phillies top prospect.