Red Sox Draft Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri at #24 Overall

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Dope
Dope
Sep 27, 2004
10,649
We can move this to the minor league forum in a couple of weeks.



Height: 6'5"
Weight: 218
Throws: Right
DOB: June 29, 1996 (20 years, 11 mos)

Houck just finished his Junior season a Missouri and is a member of the Team USA Collegiate team. He struck out 95 batters in 94 2/3 innings and posted a 3.33 ERA. Over his 3 seasons, he posted a 288/60 k/bb rate. His fastball is his greatest asset, he has hit 98 with it but regularly sits at 91-93 and has good sinking movement. His secondary pitchers are a slider and change up and they are average at best. His delivery and dip in velocity this year scared some teams off. Some scouts project him as a reliever but the team has indicated they are going to groom him as a starter.

 

koufax37

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Jul 20, 2005
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I see a lot more Matt Latos in the delivery. With that arm angle and action, he will need to figure out his secondary stuff to lefties in order to not end up a reliever, but at not yet 21, I think he has a good window to develop.
 

mt8thsw9th

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Jul 17, 2005
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I was going to point out Houck's lousy K rate compared to that group, but coincidentally Scherzer's was equally bad his junior year (though much better in his freshman and sophmore years). How many with strikeout rates that low make it as MLB starters? Only one college starter drafted in 2017 in the vicinity of Houck (picks 25-31) had a K/9 under 10, and that was Anthony Kay (#31), who had TJS after the draft.
 

Rovin Romine

Johnny Rico
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We have no Houck thread in the Minor League Forum. Perhaps this says something about 2017-2020. Strange times.

Anyway - note for posterity. Houck was at the alternate site in 2020 and started his first ML game on Sept. 15 against the Marlins, in the Covid shortened season. He did very well, pitching a shutout over 5 innings, while striking out 7, walking 3 and allowing 2 hits. This year we had Sale (TJ) and Erod (Covid-19) down, and relied a surprisingly passible Martin Perez, along with a sometimes injured Eovaldi, and the likes of Colten Flotsam and Jetsam Kickham.

There are some tweeted video clips in the two page gamethread: https://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?threads/9-15-the-debut-of-turner-hooch.31469/page-2#post-4044098

The MLB article: Houck is pro-adoption, and Max Scherzer, a fellow University of Missouri alumni, tweeted out a vid clip in support of his start: https://www.mlb.com/news/tanner-houck-wins-mlb-debut

So:

1) Whaddawegothere?

2) How long do we got it? What are the implications in calling him up in this crazy shortened season?
 

SouthernBoSox

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Jul 23, 2005
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We have no Houck thread in the Minor League Forum. Perhaps this says something about 2017-2020. Strange times.

Anyway - note for posterity. Houck was at the alternate site in 2020 and started his first ML game on Sept. 15 against the Marlins, in the Covid shortened season. He did very well, pitching a shutout over 5 innings, while striking out 7, walking 3 and allowing 2 hits. This year we had Sale (TJ) and Erod (Covid-19) down, and relied a surprisingly passible Martin Perez, along with a sometimes injured Eovaldi, and the likes of Colten Flotsam and Jetsam Kickham.

There are some tweeted video clips in the two page gamethread: https://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?threads/9-15-the-debut-of-turner-hooch.31469/page-2#post-4044098

The MLB article: Houck is pro-adoption, and Max Scherzer, a fellow University of Missouri alumni, tweeted out a vid clip in support of his start: https://www.mlb.com/news/tanner-houck-wins-mlb-debut

So:

1) Whaddawegothere?

2) How long do we got it? What are the implications in calling him up in this crazy shortened season?
The Four Seam, Two Seam, Slider package is all plus stuff. Very impressive. He really has to develop a serviceable third pitch. Its doesn't need to be amazing, but if the splitter can be developed into something average, I think you've got a very intriguing starting pitcher.
 

Detts

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Jul 20, 2005
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Sox Prospects rules out the change and curve due to arm angle. He’s been.messing around with a split this year which would help with lefties. Cutter could be an option down the road.

Really good shot at sticking as a starter.
 

johnlos

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Aug 22, 2014
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From pitcherlist:
"I had no expectations for Tanner Houck as he made his MLB debut yesterday against the Marlins, but he turned many heads after earning a win across 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 Hits, 3 BBs, 7 Ks – 9 Whiffs, 28% CSW. That’s luscious across the board and now we’re wondering if Tanner is the ticket to your championship for his final two starts of the year.

It’s a 3.5 pitch mix (the .5 is what I call pitchers with both a sinker and four-seamer) as Houck tries to earn weak balls in play with a sinker that rides plenty into right-handers, then using four-seamers up in the zone. I’m fine that approach, though I do feel his four-seamer at 92-95 is a bit more effective than his sinker that can get away from him a good amount. The belle of the ball is his slider, though, as its movement is what you dream of from breaking balls. Just 5 whiffs in this one, but 40% CSW and it’s the pitch that creates a good amount of intrigue moving forward. Sadly his changeup had little shine and I question if it’s a proper third option moving forward.

The arsenal depicts a volatile pitcher with strikeout upside and a low floor, amplified by a history of poor walk rates. With the Yankees heating up and next on the docket followed by the Braves after, I’d remove Houck from the menu of streamers – why did I even waste your time? – but I’d imagine Houck will fight for a rotation spot in 2021. If a steady third option appears, there could be some regular consideration."
 

JimD

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Nov 29, 2001
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Sales out until the middle of 2021.
EdRo may never pitch again depending on his heart condition.
Eovaldi is a pile of suck.

So I guess Houck is our new #1.
I could care less what number slot he is assigned. 2021 is still going to be more of a rebuilding year, so if Houck proves himself worthy of a starting role that will be good enough for me - hopefully he will be pushed down the rotation later in the year by a healthy Sale and (fingers and toes crossed) Rodriguez.
 

Sprowl

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Jun 27, 2006
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Houck's movement, and to some extent his delivery, remind me of Justin Masterson: the same mix of 4-seamer, sinker and slider; the same 10 o'clock release; and almost the same horizontal movement. Houck is only 6'5", where Masterson was 6'8", so the movement isn't quite as electric, but Houck seems to have better command of his pitches.
 

BaseballJones

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Oct 1, 2015
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I recently saw a good write-up on Mata, and we're seeing that Houck has pretty nice potential. Add in Seabold and Jacob Wallace, along with some progress by Groome, and suddenly it looks like there might be help coming up through the system. Which would be....phenomenal.
 

ehaz

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Sep 30, 2007
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I’ve only been able to watch the highlights. How is he attacking lefties? If I recall, the big issue with him was the development of his change up (or did he scrap that for a splitter) to give him an out pitch vs lefties. The fastball(s) and his sweeping slider look nice, but I worry about LHH vs RHP that throw sidearm.
 

greek_gawd_of_walks

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Joe Castig likes the movement on his fastball and his wipe-out slider. Eck or Remy wants to see him develop a third pitch.
The pitch you didn't see a lot of last night, which people think could be a third offering, is that splitter. He showed it a bit against NYY. Still needs refinement, but decent depth and change in speed could be a weapon against lefties, although, no one last night was touching that slider from either side of the plate.

He and Dalbec have been the most sterling of the silver linings, along with Verdugo, in 2020
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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The pitch you didn't see a lot of last night, which people think could be a third offering, is that splitter. He showed it a bit against NYY. Still needs refinement, but decent depth and change in speed could be a weapon against lefties, although, no one last night was touching that slider from either side of the plate.

He and Dalbec have been the most sterling of the silver linings, along with Verdugo, in 2020
Arroyo has been pretty impressive too. There's actually quite a lot to be optimistic about for The Sox, at least, in 2021. His emergence has me wondering if Downs (or Arroyo) could get spun off with another to pick up a young SP.
 

BaseballJones

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There's been, for me, a lot of silver linings. In no particular order:

1. Devers' return to form, showing that the first few weeks were just a slow start. He's been unreal since that slow start. Last 25 games: .327/.376/.614/.990, 7 hr, 26 rbi. He's the real deal and it's nice to have that confirmed. A true star.

2. Eovaldi rounding into form. He had some rough starts there, but really came on his last four starts. And (while all starts count) if you take away his one disastrous start on Aug 15 (9 h, 8 r in 5.1 ip), his overall numbers are solid: 43.0 ip, 42 h, 12 r, 12 er, 5 bb, 49 k, 2.51 era, 1.09 whip, 10.3 k/9. That's encouraging as we prepare for 2021.

3. Verdugo. The guy is a really good baseball player. Unfortunately for him, he'll always be linked to Mookie, who's simply a much better player, and that's not fair. But Verdugo is very very good both offensively and defensively. Excellent pickup by Bloom.

4. Houck. Electric stuff, looks like a legit MLB arm.

5. Dalbec. Hate the gazillion strikeouts, but the guy has HUMONGOUS power. When he hits homers, they're not 380 foot fence-scrapers. They're 445 foot bombs. And he hits them to all fields. Definitely a guy to keep on the MLB squad and try to cut down on his K's, but man you gotta love the power.

6. Vazquez. I was wondering if 2019 was a fluke, but he's followed it up with a solid year: .801 ops, 114 ops+. Excellent overall player.

7. Hernandez. I know he got limited opportunity this year, but he's followed up his 2019 season with a nice little performance this season. Clearly he has the goods to be a solid MLB reliever.

8. The money. Excellent job to get under the luxury tax, which gives them TONS of freedom moving forward.

9. Restocking the system. They've added a lot of talent to the farm system, which can be brought up in the next few years or traded away for better MLB talent. Good job by Bloom to get some terrific prospects.

10. A high draft pick. Unfortunately, they played just well enough to move out of a top-2 draft position, but they're still going to draft high in each round, which should mean they can acquire some excellent young talent in next year's draft.

11. Bonus: Noah Song's military commitment has kept him from playing ball, but every day that goes by is another day closer to him stepping on the baseball field again.

12. Bonus #2: The recovery of Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. Covid really messed with EdRo, but he's had a lot of time to recover without the team worrying about games on the field. Hoping he's fully good to go for 2021. Plus, he pitched a lot of innings in 2018 and 2019, and it's nice for him to ease some of the strain on that arm. Might help in the long run. As for Sale...it turns out to be a "perfect" (if there ever was one) season to sit out due to TJ surgery. He should be on schedule to return midway through 2021 with a rebuilt and fresh arm. Would be ENORMOUS to get these two guys back and pitching like they're capable of. The July 2021 Red Sox should be vastly better with the development of the young guys and the return of Sale and EdRo.
 

jmcc5400

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Nice post, plenty of green shoots. I'd add as Bonus # 3 that Alex Cora's year in purgatory is over. I think it will be a boost to have him back, assuming that's the direction they go in. If Chaim can shore up the bullpen this winter and the Sox have a little luck with rebounds from Eduardo, JD and Beni, it's not too hard to see them rebounding into a fairly fun high-80s win team in 2021.
 

bosockboy

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There's been, for me, a lot of silver linings. In no particular order:

1. Devers' return to form, showing that the first few weeks were just a slow start. He's been unreal since that slow start. Last 25 games: .327/.376/.614/.990, 7 hr, 26 rbi. He's the real deal and it's nice to have that confirmed. A true star.

2. Eovaldi rounding into form. He had some rough starts there, but really came on his last four starts. And (while all starts count) if you take away his one disastrous start on Aug 15 (9 h, 8 r in 5.1 ip), his overall numbers are solid: 43.0 ip, 42 h, 12 r, 12 er, 5 bb, 49 k, 2.51 era, 1.09 whip, 10.3 k/9. That's encouraging as we prepare for 2021.

3. Verdugo. The guy is a really good baseball player. Unfortunately for him, he'll always be linked to Mookie, who's simply a much better player, and that's not fair. But Verdugo is very very good both offensively and defensively. Excellent pickup by Bloom.

4. Houck. Electric stuff, looks like a legit MLB arm.

5. Dalbec. Hate the gazillion strikeouts, but the guy has HUMONGOUS power. When he hits homers, they're not 380 foot fence-scrapers. They're 445 foot bombs. And he hits them to all fields. Definitely a guy to keep on the MLB squad and try to cut down on his K's, but man you gotta love the power.

6. Vazquez. I was wondering if 2019 was a fluke, but he's followed it up with a solid year: .801 ops, 114 ops+. Excellent overall player.

7. Hernandez. I know he got limited opportunity this year, but he's followed up his 2019 season with a nice little performance this season. Clearly he has the goods to be a solid MLB reliever.

8. The money. Excellent job to get under the luxury tax, which gives them TONS of freedom moving forward.

9. Restocking the system. They've added a lot of talent to the farm system, which can be brought up in the next few years or traded away for better MLB talent. Good job by Bloom to get some terrific prospects.

10. A high draft pick. Unfortunately, they played just well enough to move out of a top-2 draft position, but they're still going to draft high in each round, which should mean they can acquire some excellent young talent in next year's draft.

11. Bonus: Noah Song's military commitment has kept him from playing ball, but every day that goes by is another day closer to him stepping on the baseball field again.

12. Bonus #2: The recovery of Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. Covid really messed with EdRo, but he's had a lot of time to recover without the team worrying about games on the field. Hoping he's fully good to go for 2021. Plus, he pitched a lot of innings in 2018 and 2019, and it's nice for him to ease some of the strain on that arm. Might help in the long run. As for Sale...it turns out to be a "perfect" (if there ever was one) season to sit out due to TJ surgery. He should be on schedule to return midway through 2021 with a rebuilt and fresh arm. Would be ENORMOUS to get these two guys back and pitching like they're capable of. The July 2021 Red Sox should be vastly better with the development of the young guys and the return of Sale and EdRo.
Throw in another very solid year from Xander.
 

chawson

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Aug 1, 2006
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Nice post, plenty of green shoots. I'd add as Bonus # 3 that Alex Cora's year in purgatory is over. I think it will be a boost to have him back, assuming that's the direction they go in. If Chaim can shore up the bullpen this winter and the Sox have a little luck with rebounds from Eduardo, JD and Beni, it's not too hard to see them rebounding into a fairly fun high-80s win team in 2021.
Nice list. I’d toss Pivetta on too, since he doesn’t really qualify among the prospects in your #9 bullet. He’s got some more tweaking to do and could stand to regain another tick or two on the fastball, but it’s certainly possible he’s a 2 or 3-win pitcher for the next four years at minimal cost. Basically a Rick Porcello type, acquired for next to nothing.
 

johnlos

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Aug 22, 2014
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Arroyo has been pretty impressive too. There's actually quite a lot to be optimistic about for The Sox, at least, in 2021. His emergence has me wondering if Downs (or Arroyo) could get spun off with another to pick up a young SP.
Didn't watch many games the last month but 94 wRC+ am I missing something? Just noticed the 1st round pedigree but bunch of teams have given up on him already
 

nvalvo

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Didn't watch many games the last month but 94 wRC+ am I missing something? Just noticed the 1st round pedigree but bunch of teams have given up on him already
The numbers looked considerably better before a 1 for 10 stretch to end the season, which of course tells us a fair amount about the sample size.

And having watched his early years in SF, I wouldn't say teams have given up on him so much as he's had rough luck with injuries — an HBP on the hand/wrist, an oblique strain — and been a major piece of a big trade (Longoria).

He absolutely crushed AAA in two of his three stints at the level, so if he's healthy I'd say he's worth a shot. The suggestion that he makes Downs expendable is bit much, though.
 

jmcc5400

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Do we have something here? Kid was great - his line was messed up by that Devers throw, but he looked dominant. Great movement on his pitches.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Do we have something here? Kid was great - his line was messed up by that Devers throw, but he looked dominant. Great movement on his pitches.
We certainly have a good #6 starter that can be stashed in Worcester, at least for the time being. He's got a very good chance of being a regular part of the rotation soon enough. I don't think there's a need to keep him up full time just yet, provided ERod is on track to return next week and Richards, Perez, and Pivetta are serviceable. They're going to need more than five starters to get through the season. If they can keep Houck's innings down early (easier to do in Worcester), he and Sale could be a big shot in the arm in the second half rotation.
 

DJnVa

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Dec 16, 2010
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On the O's broadcast, Jim Palmer called him a "right handed Sale" speaking to how his pitches move.