Boston Purple Sox Prime Prospects: Tanner Houck appears to be like to show 2020 was no fluke

For the second straight vote, we’ve a participant who we truly bought to see play in 2020 make it into our group prime prospects checklist. Bob Dalbec ended up squeaking with a victory within the final spherical of voting, making him quantity seven on our checklist and the fifth place participant already. This time round we went again to the pitching properly, and did so with one of many greatest blowouts I can bear in mind on this sequence, at the very least relationship again the previous couple of years since I’ve been on this place. It was Tanner Houck taking dwelling the quantity eight spot with a whopping 80 % of the vote.

Houck was the second first-round decide made the Dave Dombrowski-led entrance workplace, and he instantly match the invoice for what we had been anticipating from a Dombrowski-led group within the draft. In his days in Detroit he all the time appeared to have a factor for hard-throwing righties with reliever danger, and that was precisely what Houck was in 2017 popping out of the College of Missouri. In school, he had been a starter, however between his supply and his two-seam oriented repertoire, many noticed him heading to a late-inning function earlier than he made it to the bigs.

The Purple Sox, in fact, had different concepts. They saved him as a starter, and as is all the time the case for a university pitcher in his first summer season as a professional he pitched brief outings in Lowell to start out his profession in 2017. Over 10 begins and 22 13 innings, he was encouraging, pitching to a 3.63 ERA with 25 strikeouts and eight walks. That was a adequate efficiency that they had been prepared to push the then-22-year-old to Excessive-A Salem for his full-season debut.

New York Yankees v. Boston Red Sox

Photograph Adam Glanzman/MLB Pictures way of Getty Photographs

It was right here in 2018 that the Purple Sox began experimenting with some issues with Houck. Main as much as that first full season, Boston was making an attempt to make it simpler for him to stay as a starter, altering up his mechanics and making an attempt to get him to rely extra on his four-seam than the two-seam. The modifications didn’t actually take. Over his first 11 begins he had pitched to a 6.16 ERA with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. The plan wasn’t working. In order the yr went on their lightened up on the alterations and he began to pitch higher.

Now heading into 2019, there have been nonetheless some questions with Houck. He was clearly extra comfy with a hybrid between the way in which he pitched in school and the way in which the Purple Sox wished him to throw, but it surely additionally led to extra reliever danger. Regardless of that, he was nonetheless beginning as he started that season in Portland. Issues had been up and down in Double-A, and over 17 appearances (15 begins and two stints out of the bullpen) he pitched to a 4.25 ERA with 80 strikeouts over 82 23 innings.

Halfway the season, he was promoted to Pawtucket the place he pitched primarily out of the bullpen. In response to the group, this was not the ultimate function for Houck, however they felt like he may probably assist him within the majors in that function in that season and wished to get him set for that function simply in case, with an eye fixed on returning him to the rotation in 2020. Many, myself included, didn’t purchase that. He regarded properly sufficient in Pawtucket’s bullpen (and he did make a pair of begins there as properly) with a 3.24 ERA, however the big-league membership fell out of the race and so Houck no means bought that decision up.

True to their phrase, Boston shifted the large righty again to a beginning function in 2020, however then COVID didn’t enable him to pitch in organized ball for a lot of the summer season. He was, nonetheless, on the Alternate Website, and was displaying on the market. Together with Jarren Duran, Houck was one of many greatest constructive tales to come back out of Pawtucket, and he did finally get his probability on the finish of the yr. We all know what occurred then. He was unimaginable. It was solely three begins, however he pitched to a 0.53 ERA over 17 innings of labor with 21 strikeouts and 9 walks, solidifying himself as a major-leaguer and creating every kind of pleasure for the yr to come back.

So far as the scouting goes, there are nonetheless some questions for Houck, however the positives are readily obvious as properly. The previous first rounder has unimaginable stuff, significantly along with his prime two pitches. He throws each his two-seam and four-seam fastball, with the previous having good motion and the latter being a bit flatter but additionally hitting the excessive 90s. After which his slider has gotten comps to Chris Sale’s from the appropriate aspect. That is likely to be just a little a lot, but it surely’s an excellent pitch. That baseline is sufficient that individuals, together with yours really, are as assured as ever that he can at the very least be an excellent reliever on the highest degree.

There are nonetheless, nonetheless, some considerations that he might prime out as a reliever. For one factor, the mechanics are nonetheless a problem, albeit much less of 1 than they had been when he was first drafted. Extra importantly, there are nonetheless main questions on Houck’s third pitch and his skill to get lefties. He was nice in these three begins final summer season, however he additionally threw solely a handful of splitters, a brand new pitch he was utilizing to switch his changeup. His back-foot slider bought a couple of lefties, however over a bigger pattern he’ll want that splitter to develop. If it doesn’t, he in all probability has to shift to the bullpen. But when it does flip into even a median pitch, he ought to have a future as a starter on this league.

Within the shorter time period, Houck is predicted to start out 2021 in Triple-A if everybody stays wholesome within the projected big-league rotation. It appears foolish to start out him there after what he did final season, however there are legitimate causes for it. For one factor, he has an choice, and so they need to hold as a lot depth available as attainable. On prime of that, and possibly extra importantly, he must work on that offspeed pitch towards actual competitors. Even when he does begin in Worcester, although, Houck will get his probability to indicate 2020 was no fluke, and certain sooner fairly than later.

Right here is our checklist thus far:

  1. Triston Casas
  2. Jeter Downs
  3. Bryan Mata
  4. Jarren Duran
  5. Gilberto Jimenez
  6. Noah Track
  7. Bob Dalbec
  8. Tanner Houck

Now, you’ll be able to head down into the feedback and vote for the quantity 9 prospect. As a reminder, to do that you go down under and discover the remark from me corresponding with the participant for whom you’d prefer to vote. Once you discover stated participant, simply click on the “rec” button, and that can rely your vote. To do that, you will have to be logged in as a member of the positioning. For those who’d prefer to vote for a participant who just isn’t listed, simply go away a remark saying “Vote for ___ right here” and I’ll rec the remark to rely your vote. We encourage dialogue, in fact, however please don’t remark below particular gamers’ names. As an alternative, scroll to the underside to start out a brand new remark thread with the intention to hold the gamers on the prime of the remark part. Till subsequent time…

Supply hyperlink