Boston’s first-rounder from this year (#24 overall) out of Missouri, Houck was a durable Friday-night starter for the Tigers, throwing 300 2/3 innings over his three seasons with a 3.27 ERA 292 strikeouts against just 63 walks (1.9 BB/9) in the tough Southeastern Conference. He’s jumped into pro ball with Lowell, and has been working on a pitch count that has limited him to 10 1/3 innings across five starts this summer, and in my view August 1, he went three innings and did not allow a hit or walk a batter, and struck out four.
Houck has the prototypical starter’s physical makeup, with a durable frame, strength throughout, and wide shoulders. He works from a no wind-up delivery with some funk to it, with a quick arm and a wrap, and with some directional issues that will need to be polished up for a smoother, online delivery that can repeat more effectively. He throws a two-and four-seam fastball with average command, sitting mostly at 94 mph with the heavy-sinking four-seamer, and with the two-seamer showing run to the arm side that was effective versus left-handed hitters. Both the velo and movement project as plus. The slider still needs some refinement, but it projects as a future above-average offering in the 81-84 mph range with tight spin and occasional tilt and depth when he doesn’t pull across late. He also shows feel for a changeup that could reach plus, sitting in the 83-to-87 mph range with fade to both sides of the plate when he doesn’t overthrow it.
Houck’s command profile and development of his secondary offerings will determine his ultimate role, as will his ability to develop more effective sequencing and feel for his arsenal. But while there is work to be done, he still has a ceiling of a Role 60, number three starter if it comes together, with a floor of a Role 50, average number four-or-five starter or set-up man.