"He has a chance to be a frontline starter," Phillies director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz said. "We feel that this right-hander's fastball was one of the best in the country, not measuring velocity, measuring action and the deception and the ability to use it. He's somebody that we rank really highly across the country."
• Phillies' 8th overall pick: Adam Haseley
Howard, 20, started the season in the bullpen, but worked his way into the rotation in March. He throws a fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. The fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range, but he can hit 96 mph.
MLB.com ranked him 99th in its 200 prospects list. He was the ninth college right-hander drafted overall.
"You guys know that starting pitching is hard to come by," Almaraz said. "This is one of the few guys in the Draft that we felt has a chance -- there is a lot of college pitching -- but this is one we felt had a chance to be a frontline starter.
"He's a power right-hander. He's got everything. He's got a delivery. He's got great arm action. He's got the pitches. He's anywhere from 90-96. He pitches in the 92-93 range. He's got a really good curveball that's got angle. He's got a slider, he's got a change. He knows how to pitch."
Howard is expected to sign, and once he does, he is expected to start at Class A Advanced Lakewood.
Cal Poly has produced big leaguers like Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith and right-hander Mike Krukow, who won 20 games with the Giants in 1986.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.