On Monday evening, the dreams of one local athlete came true. Spencer Howard, Cal Poly sophomore and former Templeton Eagle pitcher was drafted in the second round of the Major-League Baseball Draft. Taken with the 45th pick overall by the Phillies, according to the Cal Poly website, he is the third highest draft pick to come out of Cal Poly. Howard will be following in the footsteps of former Cal Poly pitcher Matt Imhof, who was also selected by the Phillies in 2014 with the 47th pick. Howard stands 6-foot-3-inches tall and weighs around 200 pounds and pitches with a live arm. Howard was selected as a second team all-American for his season via the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and also finished with the second best earned run average (ERA) in the Big West (2.05). Howard’s 2.05 ERA was top 25 in the country this season, coming in at number 23 overall.
It isn’t often that a player with professional level talent comes out of a central coast school. Current Templeton Head Baseball Coach, and former assistant when Howard played, Pete Kotheimer talked about what she saw from 2nd draft pick in 2013.
“We recognized Spencer as having a tremendous amount of ability, good velocity, great projectable body, very athletic.” Kotheimer said,”So we certainly saw a lot of potential to play past high school, but of course being where we’re at, first day MLB draft material doesn’t come up very often.”
Howard joined the Cal Poly Mustangs the following season an decided to take redshirt year. This meant that Howard could practice with the Mustangs and as long as he didn’t see game action, he would not lose a year of eligibility.
“Spencer came in with a live arm and just needed to develop in a number of different ways.” Mustang Head Baseball Coach Larry Lee said, “He redshirted his first year and threw out off the bullpen mostly as a redshirt freshman, and then this year started in the bullpen and then things just clicked.”
The red shirt sophomore started this season with five appearances out of the bullpen before breaking into the starting lineup. Howard spent his first two season in the bullpen for the Mustangs refining pitches while also becoming a student of the game.
“He developed three secondary pitches, a cutter, curveball and a change up.” Lee said, “Then the final piece off the puzzle was that he really took it upon himself to make the mental game a big part of his success.”
According to Kotheimer, Howard’s fastball is currently sitting at 93 and 94 MPH and touching just a little above. Coach Lee believes that Howard could still add more to his fastball in the coming years.
“He has a very fluid arm and its very effortless so there is more velocity in that arm that will happen as he continues to mature physically.” Coach Lee also noted that all the young Philly needs to do is believe he can be successful, and he should because he has all the tools.
Howard finished the season with an 8-1 record, he won his last five starts and is the first Mustangs pitcher to end a season with only one loss since 2012.