June 29, 1996
1st round, 2017
ETA: Late 2020
Featured Video (8.2.17)
Scouting Scratch (8.4.17)
Scouting Scratch (9.14.17)
Tall, athletic pitcher’s frame. Has some projection left and should add
strength as he matures.
Mechanics: Throws from a
low three-quarters arm slot, starting on the first base side of the
rubber. Steps toward third base and finishes with back leg continuing in
that direction. Used to step even more towards third and then swing back
leg around toward first base, coming across his body with a lot of
east-west movement, but has worked on staying squarer to the plate with
very obvious improvements. Very quick arm. Long arm action including elbow
climb in the back and high leg kick. Mechanics are very tough on
right-handed hitters. Unique delivery (which used to be even moreso) with
a lot of effort, but it works for him.
92-94 mph. Tops out at 97 mph. In college, worked almost exclusively off a
two-seam fastball regarded as among the best in the 2017 draft. At
beginning of 2018, organization worked with Houck on instead relying
primarily on a four-seam fastball, based in part on Trackman data on the
pitch. After struggling in the first half of the year, returned to
primarily throwing the two-seam while mixing in the four-seam more than he
once had. Two-seam shows arm-side run and heavy sink down in the zone.
Houck does not command the four-seam as well. In Spring Training 2018,
threw the four-seam routinely in the 95-97 mph range, but as with earlier
looks, the pitch was straight and was hit hard when in the zone. Better as
a pitch to mix in and change the batter’s eye level on occasion. Now
throws the pitch at about the same velocity as the two-seam. Potential
plus pitch. May add a cutter eventually.
82-84 mph. Shows sharp, 11-to-5 break. Threw a sweepy, 10-to-4
slider in college and after being drafted. Now throws with a spike
curveball grip, but arm angle and pitch speed make it seem more
slider-esque. Very confident in the pitch, willing to throw it to right-
and left-handed hitters. Potential plus offering.
87-89 mph. Work in progress, has changed his grip on the pitch as a
professional. Still a work in progress. Clear third pitch.
Career Notes: Pitched for U.S. collegiate national team for two
summers at Missouri. Perhaps a poster child for the Trackman era, the Red
Sox development plan after drafting Houck has included an overhaul of his
arsenal and mechanics despite his being a first-round pick in an effort to
increase his chances of staying in the rotation. Experimented with
primarily throwing a four-seam fastball in early 2018 that he now will mix
in with the two-seam and has changed grips on his breaking ball and
Summation: Projects as a late-inning
reliever, with a chance to develop into a mid-rotation starter if he can
develop another secondary pitch to complement his breaking ball and refine
his fastball command. Has the size and demeanor you look for in a pitcher;
able to bear down when necessary. Fastball and slider project as potential
plus pitches. Changeup lags behind, but has shown potential against
left-handed hitters, which will be vital given his low arm slot.