CHICAGO | If students at Scott Middle School in Hammond want someone to talk hot-stove-league baseball with this off-season, they've got Trent Howard.

Dividing his substitute teaching duties at Scott, alma mater Clark and Morton, Howard's on the cusp of reaching Double-A as a left-handed pitching prospect for the Baltimore Orioles.

“They haven’t told me anything (official) yet,” said the Hammond resident and Orioles’ seventh-round draft pick in 2011. But all indications are he has a good shot to move up to Double-A Bowie (Md.) in 2014.

Howard had one start, a four-inning, four-runs-yielded outing at Bowie. That was a brief promotion amid a season at high Class-A Frederick (Md.) in which he appeared in 28 games (15 starts) with a 3-2 record, a 3.48 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 88 innings.

“I enjoyed every second of it,” Howard said of his Bowie start. “It was an opportunity to prove my worth.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter told The Times in July that Howard’s fastball velocity improved to 91 mph on several pitches.

“It’s phenomenal,” Howard said of Showalter’s awareness. “It can’t do anything but help. Every tiny microscopic improvement helps.”

He also believes Orioles management views him as an eventual reliever in the majors, but is starting him now to get more work on his pitches.

“Double-Duty Phegley”: Rookie Sox catcher Josh Phegley is experiencing his first extended time in the Chicago area.

While starring at Terre Haute North and earning Indiana’s Mr. Baseball honor in 2006 by the state high school baseball coaches association, Phegley did not play in the region.

Phegley would pitch in the first game of high-school doubleheaders, then catch the second contest.

The list: Most Sox losses in a season: 106 (1970); 102 (1932); 101 (1948); 99 (1934); 97 (1931 and 1976); 95 (1968); 94 (1950 and 1969), and 93 (1929).

Jim is a sports writer for The Times who works out of Valparaiso. A South Central High School (1984) and Ball State ('89) grad, he’s covered preps most of his career. He received the Indiana High School Wrestling Coaches Association’s Media Award in 1997.