Up next in the MLB Draft prospect profile series is one of the most physical college starters available early on in Tanner Houck.
6’5, 215 pounds
Position: Right-handed pitcher
DOB: June 29, 1996
Slot recommended bonus (No. 23): $2,702,700
Editor’s Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and video.
Houck is a pitcher who has drawn comparisons the likes of Max Scherzer and current (OKC) Dodger Justin Masterson. Odds are he’s closer to Masterson than Scherzer because he’s probably not going to be a borderline Hall of Famer.
Like Scherzer started out, Houck is predominantly a 2-pitch pitcher at this stage. His fastball has sat in the mid-90s in the past, though, it hasn’t been at that level most of the season. He’s more of a low-90s guy right now who gets good arm-side run on it and boring action in on right-handers. He should be able to get a lot of grounders with the pitch at the next level. He pairs his fastball with a low-80s slider that has shown some swing-and-miss ability, but it needs to be more consistent. It lacks tilt at times and becomes flat. But when he snaps it off, it’s an above-average offering. His changeup is lacking behind the slider and he’ll need to work on it after turns pro. He’s not that dissimilar to Kyle Funkhouser — a college performer whose stuff backed up a little bit but can still get results.
Where some scouts are concerned are with Houck’s delivery. It’s a low-three-quarters arm slot and an “Inverted W” with his throwing elbow. The Dodgers have shown they’re not opposed to taking risks on pitchers with potential injury concerns — both in the draft and in the majors — so popping Houck wouldn’t be the most surprising thing. It’s a high-effort delivery, but he has good control of it, he has produced in his college career and he has been relatively healthy. And he has the frame to withstand the rigors of a starter’s workload. That physicality plays in his favor.
Videos courtesy of Prospect Pipeline (Steve Fiorindo), Andrew Krause, and Mizzou Network.
Houck upside is that of a No. 2 starter, but he’ll likely settle into a No. 3/4 role. If he can’t develop a third pitch and become more consistent with his slider, he could be a power, late-inning reliever out of the bullpen. Remember: A lot of folks thought Scherzer was going to end up in the bullpen, too. It’s basically why the Diamondbacks traded him.
He has competed in the SEC, so he has faced some premium payers. He shouldn’t be a terribly difficult sign at No. 23 — probably about slot. He could go back to school, but unless he’s severely low-balled, he should sign.