Down On The Farm: Sam Howard


Apr 10, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; General wide view of Coors Field during the seventh inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs against the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies defeated the Cubs 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rockies’ Class A Affiliate Asheville Tourists has an interesting starting rotation with several hurlers having good years, including lefty Sam Howard

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Sam Howard, a product of Cartersville, Georgia and Georgia Southern University, has made ten starts for the Asheville Tourists thus far this summer. And thus far, he’s been a tough luck loser, going 2-6 despite having just a 3.86 ERA and allowing just 47 hits and ten walks in 51.1 innings pitched, for a 1.11 WHIP.

He’s only had one bad start this year, allowing eight runs on ten hits in 4.1 innings at Lexington back in April; besides that start, he’s never allowed more than three runs in a start, and he’s only allowed more than two runs in a start twice.

Howard, who will turn 23 years old next March, made 13 starts at rookie level Grand Junction last season and put up pedestrian numbers in his first professional campaign, though to be fair to him, the Pioneer League is a tough place for pitchers to debut in the professional ranks.

Now, the 6-foot-3, 170 lb. left-hander who was taken in the third round of the 2014 MLB Draft is growing into a solid starter for the Tourists, having tossed six innings of one run ball on Tuesday in North Carolina.

The GSU product (full disclosure: I played against GSU as a college baseball player, though it was a couple years before Howard was there!) didn’t expect to be taken so highly in the draft last year, and he came across very well in a Savannah Morning News profile last June.

"[Georgia Southern] Eagles coach Rodney Hennon said Howard’s fastball clocks in the low 90s. And when Howard couples the fastball with good location on his changeup, slider and cutter, he can become almost unhittable — even for Florida State.“The Colorado Rockies got an outstanding pitcher and an even better person,” Hennon said. “Character, makeup, he’s off the charts. The biggest thing for him this year on the mound was maturity. His confidence went to another level.”"

Howard was tested in college, as so many players are, too:

"He started his third year in Statesboro with a lot of fanfare and beat the University of Georgia in the season opener. But Howard’s maturity would be tested. In April, he lost three starts in a row and, after getting blasted for seven earned runs in two innings against Wofford, was demoted to No. 2 in the rotation.“For a few hours it made me mad,” Howard said. “But then I thought, if it helps the team, I’ll do whatever it takes.”Howard flourished in his new role. Twice, he pitched eight or more scoreless innings in starts that resulted in 1-0 wins for the Eagles."

A third-round lefty progressing well at low full season class-A is somebody to keep in the back of your head, considering he’ll turn 23 years old next spring and has a few years to develop, especially if he can earn a midseason promotion to Modesto.

Howard is likely slated to start again on Sunday for the Tourists.

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