There are big doings afoot in Reading tonight. The team’s top pitching prospect, Spencer Howard, has been promoted to AA and is preparing for his first start with the Fightin’ Phils.
He will join last year’s first round draft, and the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, third baseman Alec Bohm, who has been mashing home runs as he’s ascended up three levels of the Phillies’ minor league system.
Neither player is joining the big leagues right now, but given their age and performance this season, it’s not crazy to think one, if not both, could be on the big league roster for September call-ups.
NBC Sports Jim Salisbury noted that, for Howard at least, that may come to fruition.
At his current rate of advancement, Howard should be in the picture for work in Philadelphia next season. It’s not likely that he would be in play to help the current big-league team in September, but it’s also not out of the question. Howard has pitched just 40 1/3 innings this season so workload would not be an issue if the team felt he could help in September. All of that, of course, is contingent on how he performs over the final five weeks of the minor-league season.
The 22-year-old right-hander missed the first month and a half of the season with shoulder soreness, but that has since cleared up and, in seven starts with the Threshers, he’s posted a 56/7 K/BB ratio with a 1.79 ERA in just 40.1 innings. It is that injury, and the low workload he’s had this season as a result, that could make him an intriguing bullpen add for the season’s final month.
Howard’s stuff is dynamic. He throws in the mid-to-upper 90s and can touch triple digits with his fastball. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup which have been described as “wipe-out pitches.”
For those unfamiliar with the work of Spencer Howard, the fastball will mostly sit 92-97, he will touch 98-99 in most starts and has gotten to 100. The pitch has explosive life. Slider probably the best secondary now, but the curveball and changeup are not bad— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) July 26, 2019
He’s the only pitcher in the farm system that has top-of-the-rotation potential at the moment, so it would take an unimaginable course of events to emerge for the Phillies to give him up in a trade this week. And if he performs well through the end of July and the end of August, perhaps he’s called up to help out in the Phils ‘pen. However, as Matt Winkelman of PhilliesMinorThoughts.com notes, he’s not a finished product.
The thing that probably holds him back a little right now is that he still has some of the problems you see in a younger arm. Things like working efficiently even when being effective, pitch command over control, and consistency.— Matt Winkelman (@Matt_Winkelman) July 26, 2019
Bohm, who turns 23 next week, started the season in Low-A Lakewood, moved on to Clearwater quickly after that, and was then elevated to Reading where he has hit .248/.303/.505, with 7 HRs, 5 doubles and a 56/37 K/BB ratio in 28 games there.
He’s been pretty impressive.
What a pretty swing from Alec Bohm on his sixth AA home, just drives this one where it’s pitched and hits a bomb to the opposite field pic.twitter.com/z3YtAB03M9— Mitch Rupert (@Mitch_Rupert) July 21, 2019
And perhaps Bohm’s bat could be added as a bench piece, too. He probably would not be required to do more than hit against the occasional left-handed pitcher, but if they can find some space for him on the 40-man roster, what’s the harm in a September call-up?
Jay Floyd of PhoulBallz.com mentioned on Episode 305 of Hittin’ Season (subscribe to The Good Phight podcasts here), talked about both prospects in depth, and reiterated that neither player should be moved for a pitcher like Matthew Boyd or Mike Minor, given that they are so close to the big leagues now.
Barring a catastrophe, Howard and Bohm will probably reach Philadelphia in 2020. Whether they are called up this season remains to be seen, but both players are now on the doorstep of playing in the big leagues.
And both probably aren’t going anywhere.