Howard's start to spring has been delayed after the righty tweaked his right knee, Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Manager Joe Girardi downplayed the issue, saying that the Phillies were merely being extra cautious with the 23-year-old, something they can afford to be this early in camp. Howard has only made six starts above Low-A, but he'll have a shot to make a big-league impact this season for a Philadelphia team whose rotation looks like one of the biggest obstacles in its quest to end an eight-year playoff drought. Given his lack of experience in the upper minors, however, he's unlikely to be a member of the Opening Day roster regardless regardless of how minor his knee issue is.
Howard was invited to the Phillies' major-league spring training Monday.
Howard battled shoulder soreness last season, but he managed to progress to the Double-A level and record a 2.35 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP over 30.2 innings with Double-A Reading. While he's unlikely to open the season on the major-league roster, he'll get the chance to work with the big-league coaching staff and will likely make his debut in the majors sometime in 2020 if he continues to progress.
Howard struck out two and walked six in 4.2 innings in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday.
Howard's fastball reached 98 mph and was grouped with an excellent curveball and slider, Josh Norris of Baseball America reports. The 23-year-old battled shoulder issues this season but was excellent when available, recording a 2.03 ERA in 15 starts while striking out 34.8 percent of opposing batters and walking just 5.9 percent. Six of those starts came at the Double-A level, leaving him positioned to make his big-league debut at some point next season if his progress continues.
Howard has been promoted to Double-A Reading and will pitch Friday, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports.
He made seven starts for High-A Clearwater, recording an impressive 1.29 ERA, 0.69 WHIP and 48:5 K:BB in 35 innings. The 22-year-old is one of the Phillies' top prospects and has made a full recovery from a shoulder injury back in mid-May.
Howard (shoulder) returned to High-A Clearwater on Monday, allowing just a single hit across four scoreless innings while striking out seven against Palm Beach.
Howard had been dealing with a shoulder injury since mid-May. He now has an excellent 1.88 ERA through five starts for Clearwater, striking out 40.7 percent of opposing hitters while walking just 4.4 percent.
Howard (shoulder) allowed a hit and a walk, while striking out five, over three innings in his first rehab start since being sidelined in late April.
Howard needed just 24 pitches (20 strikes) to record nine outs following a lengthy absence. He'll presumably pick up another rehab start or two before rejoining the rotation at High-A Clearwater. A summer stint at Double-A Reading should follow barring any further injury setbacks.
Howard is on the 7-day injured list at High-A Clearwater due to shoulder soreness, Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts reports.
Winkelman says the team is not concerned, although a shoulder injury of any kind should be concerning to those who are rostering Howard in dynasty leagues. He was off to a very impressive start, logging a 2.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 20 innings (four starts).
Howard recorded a 2.12 ERA over his final 11 starts for Low-A Lakewood before throwing a postseason no-hitter, Matt Gelb of The Athletic Philadelphia reports.
The Phillies' 2017 second-round pick finished the season with a 3.78 ERA and a 31.6 percent strikeout rate in 23 starts for Lakewood. He looks like a potential mid-rotation starter, with average command, a promising slider and a fastball that can touch 98 mph. He's still several levels away from the majors, however, so he'll have to keep up a similar level of performance next season at High-A Clearwater to retain his prospect appeal.
Howard was named the Phillies' Minor League Co-Pitcher of the Month for April, the Phillies' official site reports.
Howard was selected by the Phillies with the 45th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Through his first five starts for Low-A Lakewood this season, Howard has a 3.68 ERA and a 2.45 xFIP. He's striking out an impressive 36.0 percent of batters while walking just 4.5 percent. The 21-year-old is a potential back-end starter, with average command of a mid-90s fastball and two average secondaries (a slider and a changeup).