Cubs Draft Prospect Profile: RHP – Tanner Houck

As we continue our Chicago Cubs draft coverage this afternoon, we profile MLB Pipeline’s 20th ranked prospect, right-handed pitcher Tanner Houck.

Houck, a right-handed pitcher out of the University of Missouri, ranges as high as 20th (Hero Sports) and as low as 37th (ESPN) with an average ranking of 27. The Chicago Cubs will likely be looking for arms in this year’s draft, and Houck might be the fit for them at number 27 this evening.

At six-foot-five and 220 pounds, Houck has the size to match his power fastball, and hails from Collinsville, Illinois.

Houck has notched 288 strikeouts to just 60 walks in his 296 innings of work at the University of Missouri while recording a solid 2.89 ERA in that same span. A starter in the Missouri Tigers rotation since his Freshman year, Houck has amassed these impressive stats against the SEC, some of the best competition in collegiate baseball.

The Good

Houck’s power fastball has been clocked at as high as 98 MPH during his time at Missouri, and despite some inconsistency this past season, Houck has the potential to sit in the mid-high nineties all day. Houck also possesses a plus slider and an above average changeup in his arsenal that he delivers with a sweeping motion, making right-handed hitters uncomfortable.

A seasoned collegiate pitcher, and a product of the SEC, Houck would likely experience success at the major-league level as a number three starter once he works on refining his command on the sharpness of his secondary pitches. While he has never really struggled with throwing strikes or showing a consistent command of the strike zone, sometimes his secondary pitches look more underwhelming than days when everything is clicking.

The Bad

As I touched on already, Houck’s biggest knock to the point is him not quite being a finished product despite his collegiate resume. Houck has a power fastball with an excellent late sink to it as it approaches the plate, and whether he is in the 92-93 MPH range, or the 96-98 MPH range, the late sinking action on his fastball will make it a formidable pitch.

The problem is that Houck has too many outings in which his secondary pitches are not working the way they do when he has it all working, his slider becomes an average pitch and his changeup becomes ineffective for the most part. Correctable issues that can be refined by a professional coaching staff during his time at the minor-league level.

The Fit

The Chicago Cubs are in desperate need of arms in this year’s MLB Draft, with their current major-league rotation struggling, and the impending departure of Jake Arrieta this winter, the Cubs need to replenish the farm with pitchers, and Tanner Houck would be a solid start for the Cubs at number 27 tonight.

The Cubs could even take two arms in the first round thanks to their supplementary pick that they earned due to Dexter Fowler signing with the St. Louis Cardinals this past offseason.

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