The Boston Red Sox have plenty of prospects that the following season could be good to. Just exactly who will make it their year in 2019 though?
If you feel like you just heard the name Tanner Houck, you’re not going crazy. I just mentioned him in the last article on Alex Scherff, and that was no accident. The two pitchers both put together impressive end-of-the-year runs to finish off 2018 in style.
Similarities between the two don’t stop there though, as both are 2017 draft picks and both played shortened 2018 seasons due to injuries. While Scherff’s injury split his season in two giving him a chance to return and correct his issues, Houck’s injury ended his season in August while he was in the middle of a fantastic turnaround.
Heading into his June 14 outing, Houck had a 6.16 ERA through 11 starts (the same number as Scherff before his turnaround) in Advanced-A on the season. These starts were laced with control issues that led to free passes (37 walks in 49 2/3 innings), which in turn led to short outings with high run totals.
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The final 12 starts of the year for the right-handed pitcher told a completely different story.
Houck’s June 14 outing saw four more walks, but he scattered them over six hitless innings. From that point on, things only went up for the right-handed pitcher.
Nine of his final 12 starts churned out performances that lowered his ERA on the season. A major part of that was his improvements in command. After allowing 37 walks in his first 49 2/3 innings, Houck walked just 23 more batters in his final 69 1/3 innings of the year.
That gets even better when you consider his last 48 innings pitched saw just 10 walks.
So in short, a young pitcher had command issues early on in his first full season in the minors. Excuse me if I’m not surprised.
The 22-year-old cleaned up those problems as the year went on though and looks ready for big things heading into 2019. Houck ranks as the number five prospect in the Red Sox system, and for good reason. He has electric stuff and it’s clearly all coming together for him at the moment.
He’ll likely start 2019 in Advanced-A again as injuries prevented him from finishing out the year. This won’t be permanent though as a promotion could come before the all-star break. Houck more-than-likely won’t be in the Majors in 2019, but he could set himself up nicely to be in the conversation for 2020.
So why exactly will 2019 be the year of Tanner Houck? If you were paying attention, he already showed you why in 2018. Everything is coming together for the pitcher, and the Red Sox (who already hold him in high regard) will find even more reasons to get excited about his future.