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MLB Draft 2017: Phillies select Spencer Howard, RHP 45th overall

Milwaukee Brewers v Philadelphia Phillies
Hopefully Spencer strikes out as much as Okafor
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Spencer Howard is a 6’3" 210 lb RHP from Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo. If that sounds a little familiar, that’s with good reason, as the Phillies have dipped into this pool before. In 2014 the Phillies took Matt Imhof with pick 47 in the Second Round. There are some big differences here. Not the least of which is that Imhof was a Lefty who was seen as having a higher ceiling than his performance showed. Howard is a high performing Righty who scouts are lukewarm on, but whom Fangraphs noted may have a higher ceiling (more on that shortly).

Howard’s 2 primary pitches are a 93-94 MPH Fastball and a low 80’s Slider. The Slider could be a Plus pitch and the Fastball is Above Average. He also throws an upper 80’s Cutter and a Changeup that shows Average potential. I’ll admit Spencer was off my radar, but the stats are promising as he simply does not walk many guys. He may be Eshelman with better stuff. The profile might be a #3 Starter if the Cutter and Change develop. If they don't, the Slider/Fastball combo has dominant potential in the Bullpen with his command.

Now on to that Fangraphs comment I made. Carson Cistulli wrote an article ~2 months ago in which he posited possibly predictive stats for the best hitters and pitchers in College for the draft. I’m curious if the Phillies have taken a similar look, because they’ve drafted the best Pitcher in the PAC 12 Big West and best Hitter in the ACC. In shorthand a 100 is a league average Pitcher anything below that is better and Howard scored a 74. The key takeaway is that his K% was ~31% and his BB% was ~4%.

If the maybe predictive stats are right and if the Phillies think they have something from scouting as well, this could be a pretty good pick. Perhaps they could have made that pick a round later, but in this draft it’s not worth getting hung up on pre-draft rankings as the difference is really small this year between a Second Rounder and a Third Rounder.