Reds' top pick Howard relishing first big league camp

Reds' top pick Howard relishing first big league camp

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Starting pitcher Nick Howard's first Spring Training as a professional has him located in the most preferred of spots -- big league camp. Howard, a non-roster invitee, was the Reds' first-round pick in the 2014 Draft.

Wearing No. 83 and keeping a lower profile, Howard is trying to soak in as much as possible.

"It's been a great experience so far, being around the veteran guys," Howard said. "They've been around the block a few times, so you always have a watchful eye out for what they're doing. I'm trying to pick up on some stuff."

With a power arm and a four-pitch repertoire -- fastball, curveball, changeup and slider -- Howard is spending this spring trying to improve his consistency and develop his secondary pitches.

"You try to develop those as quickly as possible because at the next level, everybody is able to hit one or two pitches, so you have to mix and match more," said Howard, who turns 22 on April 6.

Ranked as the Reds organization's No. 4 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, Howard appeared in 11 games last season for Class A Dayton, including five starts. He was 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA, 28 hits, 11 walks and 23 strikeouts over 33 2/3 innings.

"It was a great experience for the first place to play. That was awesome," Howard said. "The fans were great and there were a lot of people. To just get a taste of pro baseball was definitely helpful."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.