Former Cal Poly and Templeton High School pitching standout Spencer Howard is one of 28 baseball players named by USA Baseball for the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier12 on Thursday.
Team USA will begin its quest for a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games by competing in the WBSC Premiere12 in Guadalajara, Mexico, from Nov. 2-4. The U.S. will play in Group A with the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Netherlands. The top two nations from Group A will advance to the Super Round in Tokyo from Nov. 11-16.
The tournament is the first opportunity for Team USA to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The top finisher from both the Americas territory and Asia/Oceania territory (excluding Japan) will join host-country Japan and WBSC Baseball Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier champion Israel (with former Mustang pitcher Joey Wagman on the roster) in the six-team Olympic tournament.
The final two Olympic berths will be decided in March 2020.
The 28-man Team USA roster is made up of 15 pitchers and 13 position players currently not on an MLB 40-man roster.
“It is an honor to welcome a group of immensely talented athletes to Team USA as we begin the qualification process for Tokyo 2020,” said USA Baseball Executive Director and CEO Paul Seiler. “Our goal during the selection process was to identify and piece together a roster that included a combination of both young and veteran baseball players that complement each other on and off the field. These 28 men are exemplary talents and individuals, and we are confident they will represent the United States proudly on the international stage.”
Rated No. 88 on MLB Pipeline’s list of MLB prospects, Howard pitched for two teams last summer and is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions. In three starts so far, Howard has no decisions and a 2.79 ERA with 13 strikeouts and four walks over 9 2/3 innings. AFL opponents are hitting just .179 against Howard.
Howard made seven starts for the High-A Clearwater Threshers in the Florida State League, posting a 2-1 record and 1.29 ERA with 48 strikeouts over 35 innings.
Elevated to the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils of the Eastern League in late July, Spencer compiled a 1-0 record and 2.35 ERA with 38 strikeouts over 30 2/3 innings, making six starts on the mound. He also made one start in the opener of the Eastern League playoffs against Trenton on Sept. 4, giving up one run and two hits over seven innings with two walks and a dozen strikeouts.
Howard also made two brief starts in the Gulf Coast League on a rehab assignment after missing 11 weeks due to soreness in his right shoulder.
After a redshirt year in 2015, Howard pitched for Cal Poly in 2016 and 2017, earning first-team All-Big West Conference honors as a redshirt sophomore after finishing second in the Big West with his 2.05 ERA and with his eight wins. Howard struck out 97 batters, third in the conference, over 87 2/3 innings, averaging nearly 10 strikeouts per nine-inning game.
Nationally, Howard was No. 23 in ERA, No. 71 in WHiP (1.08), No. 49 in victories, No. 58 in strikeouts and No. 91 in strikeouts per nine innings en route to a spot on Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s All-American second team.
Howard was 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA as a redshirt freshman in 2016.
A 2014 Templeton High School graduate, Howard earned first-team San Luis Obispo County Player of the Year and Los Padres League Most Valuable Player honors after posting a 7-3 record and 2.20 ERA.
The Boston Red Sox lead all Major League clubs with four players from its farm system on the roster. The Philadelphia Phillies have three prospects on the roster, including Howard.
Four-time World Series champion Joe Girardi was named the manager of the Premier12 roster in August and is joined by a coaching staff laden with international experience. Bench Coach Scott Brosius, Bullpen Coach Roly de Armas, Hitting Coach Phil Plantier, Pitching Coach Bryan Price, Third Base Coach Willie Randolph and First Base Coach Ernie Young collectively have 21 years of playing and coaching experience
with Team USA, winning seven gold medals.
The team will train in Surprise, Arizona, from October 21-28 at the Kansas City Royals Spring Training facility before traveling to Mexico for the opening round of the Premier12™.
USA Baseball Premier12 Roster
(Name; Position; Hometown; 2019 Organization)
Jo Adell; OF; Louisville, Ky.; Los Angeles Angels
Clayton Andrews; LHP; Petaluma, Calif.; Milwaukee Brewers
Alec Bohm; INF; Omaha, Neb.; Philadelphia Phillies
C.J. Chatham; INF; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Boston Red Sox
Jake Cronenworth; INF; St. Clair, Mich.; Tampa Bay Rays
Bobby Dalbec; INF; Seattle, Wash.; Boston Red Sox
Brandon Dickson; RHP; Montgomery, Ala.; Orix Buffaloes
Parker Dunshee; RHP; Zionsville, Ind.; Oakland Athletics
Xavier Edwards; INF; Mineola, N.Y.; San Diego Padres
J.P Feyereisen; RHP; River Falls, Wis.; Milwaukee Brewers
Brian Flynn; LHP; Tulsa, Okla.; Kansas City Royals
Taylor Gushue; C; Boca Raton, Fla.; Washington Nationals
Tanner Houck; RHP; Collinsville, Ill.; Boston Red Sox
Spencer Howard; RHP; San Luis Obispo; Philadelphia Phillies
Tyler Johnson; RHP; Midlothian, Va.; Chicago White Sox
Erik Kratz; C; Telford, Pa.; New York Yankees
Wyatt Mills; RHP; Spokane, Wash.; Seattle Mariners
Mark Payton; OF; Orland Park, Ill.; Oakland Athletics
Brooks Pounders; RHP; Riverside, Calif.; New York Mets
Clayton Richard; LHP; Lafayette, Ind.; Toronto Blue Jays
Brent Rooker; OF; Germantown, Tenn.; Minnesota Twins
Connor Seabold; RHP; Laguna Hills, Calif.; Philadelphia Phillies
Noah Song; RHP; Pomona, Calif.; Boston Red Sox
Caleb Thielbar; LHP; Northfield, Minn.; Atlanta Braves
Daniel Tillo; LHP; Sioux City, Iowa; Kansas City Royals
Daulton Varsho; C/OF; Chili, Wisc.; Arizona Diamondbacks
Andrew Vaughn; IF; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Chicago White Sox
Drew Waters; OF; Woodstock, Ga.; Atlanta Braves