In the second round of the MLB Draft, the Phillies chose a guy who fancies himself as an amateur magician. They're hoping he can make hitters disappear at the big league level before too long.
Spencer Howard was an honors student in high school, who majored in business administration at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and pitched for the Mustangs in two seasons prior to the Phillies drafting him with the 45th overall pick in this year's draft.
In 2016, as a redshirt freshman, Howard worked primarily as a reliever and again split his time between starting and relieving for Cal Poly this past season, starting 12 games and relieving in five others, picking up one save and throwing a complete game. His season opened as a reliever, but after his five outings, he was moved into the rotation where he spent the rest of the season. The 20-year old right-hander dropped a full run off of his ERA, going from a 2.95 ERA in 2016 down to a 1.95 ERA this past season with the Mustangs and going 8-1 on the season and 11-2 in his college career.
Howard throws four pitches - fastball, slider, cut-fastball and change-up - with the first three being deemed average or slightly better by most scouts. At 6' 3", 205 pounds, some scouts believe that his build profiles more as a reliever than a durable type frame of a starter, but it's worth noting that he's basically the same size as Cole Hamels. While Hamels has had back and arm problems, his ability to pitch deep into games has never been doubted. In his last four starts of the season with Cal Poly, Howard averaged just under eight innings pitched per game.
As a senior in high school, Howard nearly quit the baseball team, but decided to stick with the sport. He then made the Cal Poly team as a walk-on after high school and wasn't highly touted until he started to show what he could do as a starter for the Mustangs this season.