SEPT. 13: The Red Sox are planning to promote pitching prospect Tanner Houck to make his MLB debut on Tuesday against the Marlins, per various reporters (including Jen McCaffrey of the Athletic). Ian Browne of MLB.com first reported that a Houck call-up was likely. He will need to be added to the 40-man roster before the promotion can become official.
Boston’s 2017 first-round pick (24th overall) out of the University of Missouri, Houck needed to be added to the 40-man this winter regardless in order to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. There’s little to lose for the out-of-contention Red Sox in getting an abbreviated look at Houck in the season’s final couple weeks.
The 24-year-old has seen his stock dip somewhat since draft day, although he’s still regarded as one of the club’s best short-term pitching prospects. Houck places among Boston’s top fifteen farmhands in the estimation of Keith Law of the Athletic (10th), MLB Pipeline (10th), Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen (11th) and Baseball America (13th). There’s some division among prospect rankers whether Houck will be able to effectively work through opposing lineups multiple times (particularly those heavy on left-handed batters), although the Red Sox will surely give Houck a shot as a starter initially.
Boston’s rotation, without Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez all year, has been atrocious. Red Sox starters have a league-worst 6.18 FIP, and only the Tigers’ rotation has mustered a worse ERA (6.64) than Boston’s 6.25. Nathan Eovaldi has been passable, but there haven’t been many bright spots behind him. That offers Houck plenty of opportunity to stick in the Sox rotation in 2021 and beyond should he prove capable.