Lakewood’s starting pitcher Spencer Howard had an outstanding minor league post season. He led the South Atlantic League playoffs in innings pitched, 14. He compiled a WHIP of 0.29; an ERA, 0.64 and strikeouts 15. His nine inning, no-hitter will go down in Phillies minor league lore. It’s good to read that Howard was cited by MiLB’s Toolshed column as one of the “Best Players of the MiLB Postseason”. Read HERE.
Though Lakewood won only 3 of 6 games in the post season, Howard pitched 13 consecutive no-hit, no-run innings and did all he could for the BlueClaws. He finished the season strong. In his last ten starts, including the two playoff starts, he pitched to a 5-1 record with a 1.63 ERA, striking out 74 in 55.1 innings.
It will be interesting to see if what Howard has accomplished in the 2018 season will result in an invite to the Phillies major league spring training camp. Two other players who should be considered as non-roster major league spring training invitees are Clearwater Threshers’ starting pitcher Mauricio Llovera and Lakewood’s catcher Rodolfo Duran. They both finished strong in the season and playoffs as well.
Llovera in his last ten starts, including one in the playoffs, pitched to a 6-1 record with a 2.87 ERA striking out 67 in 59.2 innings. He had a one-hitter going until the seventh inning in his one post season start. Duran, who caught Howard’s “no-no”, hit .289 in his last ten games of the season, including six games in the post season where he hit three home runs. In the post season he threw out runners in 4 0f 6 base stealing attempts.
The four Phillies farm teams who made it to the post season won only 5 of 14 playoff games. Lakewood was the only one to advance to the Championship round. Still, we learned that Howard, Llovera and Duran are clearly top Phillies major league prospects even at some point for the 2019 season!