Boston Red Sox Select University Of Missouri Pitcher Tanner Houck With Their First Round Pick
Boston Red Sox roll the dice and select a pitcher from the University of Missouri with their No.24 pick in the 2017 MLB draft on Tuesday night.
Tanner Houck was a junior this past season and had a 4-7 record with a 3.33 ERA, while totaling 95 strikeouts and a .220 opponent batting average over 14 starts. Houck notably threw eight shutout innings on May 6 at Vanderbilt and tossed a nine-inning complete game on May 13 against South Carolina, striking out 19 batters and walking only two in those two outings combined.
The selection of the right-hander Houck is the first college pitcher selection for Boston since Ben Cherington in 2012 drafted left-handed starter Brian Johnson. Houck is rearing to go and is “honored” to be a member of the Boston Red Sox organization.
“Super excited,” Houck said on a conference call Monday night after being drafted. “Team with great history. Obviously they’re one of the top teams in the entire league right now. they’ve been great through numerous years. I’m honored to be a Boston Red Sox and super excited to get started.”
One pitcher Houck looks up too? Red Sox ace Chris Sale who Houck says has a similar arm angle to his own.
“There was a lot of people growing up that I looked up to,” he said. “Being a St. Louis area guy, I grew up watching Wainwright. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned and watched other pitchers. Max Scherzer being one of them, a Mizzou alum there. Watching him throw and really compete has been a big influence on me. Honestly Chris Sale. He’s a low arm-slot kind of guy who throws across his body kind of like I do. Watching him pitch especially with the slider and two-seam fastball, everything like that, it’s fun watching him pitch. He’s a lefty, I’m a righty, but it’s still in my mind a little bit comparable watching him throw because he does throw a different way than most people do.”
According to Boston Red Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard, Houck has been on Boston’s radar the entire time and they have even talked to get to a more personal level.
“Getting to know him as well has been a big part of it,” Rikard said on the conference call. “We did a Facetime phone call the other day just to kind of enhance our relationship. We’ve been very impressed by obviously Tanner as a pitcher but maybe even more so as a kid and as a person. Someone who we strongly believe is going to do everything he can to maximize his potential through the years. If you get to see him pitch, he’s a warrior on the mound, and we feel confident he’s going to be a very hard worker once he puts that uniform on.”
The righties biggest strength is his mid-90s fastball that like Joe Kelly, could translate to the bullpen. But Boston seems committed to making him a starter and Rickard says his scouts are convinced that is what he will be at the major league level.
“We plan to develop him as a starter,” he said. “That’s the plan. We see him as a starter. The scouts on our staff have tremendous conviction that he’s going to end up as a starter. As he alluded, there are some areas for a college guy that’s been this successful at a very high level, we feel there are some areas where he can improve. He’s kind of the rare college successful guy that there’s still some good room for growth.”