Another Coveted Pitching Prospect Emerges in Phillies' System: Spencer Howard

LAS VEGAS - Sixto Sanchez's status as an untouchable in the Phillies' minor-league system may be changing.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has reported that Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, was talked about in a proposed deal with Seattle that would have netted the Phillies star closer Edwin Diaz and shortstop Jean Segura.

The Phillies ended up swinging a deal for Segura and two relievers but Sanchez was not included in the package as the Phils parted with only Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford.

According to a source, Sanchez was not the only Phillies pitching prospect that Seattle requested in the initially proposed deal.

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Keep an eye on the name Spencer Howard - not necessarily because the Phillies are eager to move him but because he has solidified his status as one of the organization's best starting pitching prospects, a talent that is clearly coveted by other teams.

In other words, if the Phillies are to pursue pitching like Cleveland's Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, Arizona's Robbie Ray or San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, they will probably be asked about pitchers like Howard and, of course, Sanchez.

Sanchez, 20, is a right-handed power pitcher with dazzling control. He was limited to eight starts because of an elbow injury in 2018, but has recovered and is on target to be ready for spring training.

Howard, 22, is a 6-3, 205-pound right-hander. He was the Phillies' second-round pick (45th overall) out of Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo in the 2017 draft. He pitched at Single A Lakewood in the South Atlantic League in 2018 and had a 3.78 ERA in 23 starts. In 112 innings, he allowed 101 hits, struck out 147 and walked 40. He finished his season with a nine-strikeout, one-walk no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Kannapolis in the SAL playoffs.

Howard has excellent pure "stuff." During the 2018 season, he added velocity to his fastball and reached the high-90s at times, and his slider is an excellent pitch. Over 32 pro starts, he has averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings. That's a big reason other teams like him, a big reason Seattle wanted him in a deal for Diaz, who eventually went to the Mets. It's also a big reason the Phillies like him. So if you're looking for more prospects like Sixto Sanchez to keep an eye on, remember the name Spencer Howard.

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