Missouri’s Tanner Houck Rated as No. 18 MLB Draft Prospect by MLB Pipeline

MLB Pipeline ranks Mizzou’s Tanner Houck as the 18th-best prospect in this year’s MLB Draft class.

MLB Pipeline, the in-house scouting department at MLB.com, released its latest rankings of the Top 100 prospects in this summer’s MLB Draft class on Friday. It appears as if the Mizzou baseball program will be well-represented once again in this year’s draft, as Pipeline ranks righthanded starter Tanner Houck as the No. 18 prospect in the draft class, likely putting him in position to be a first-round pick.

Houck is a 6-foot-5, 218-pound junior from Collinsville, Illinois and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 12th round of the 2014 MLB Draft but chose not to sign.

While Houck’s 3-6 win-loss record may not show it, he’s had a pretty strong junior season for the Tigers. Over 10 starts, he has a 2.98 ERA while holding hitters to a .212 average, striking out 67 and walking just 18 batters over 66 1/3 innings.

As Pipeline writes, Houck’s fastball is his most attractive commodity, and he still needs to develop his breaking pitches:

Houck has one of the best fastballs in this year’s Draft class. It’s not just because of his velocity, thought that’s impressive with a normal range of 92-96 mph with a peak of 98. Houck’s heater also has a lot of sinking and boring action, generating a lot of swings and misses as well as weak contact.

Houck’s secondary pitches aren’t as impressive. His low-80s slider lacks consistency and can get sweepy, and he needs to use his changeup more often in order to refine it. Scouts don’t love Houck’s low-three-quarters arm slot and the high back elbow in his delivery, but he makes his mechanics work and throws a lot of strikes.

That type of scouting evaluation can be a recipe for disaster in the MLB Draft, and it’s often an indicator that a pitcher won’t be a rapid riser to the major leagues. Since Houck will be 21 in June, that’s not necessarily the greatest sign, but if he goes to an organization that specializes in developing starting pitchers, such as the Pittsburgh Pirates or San Francisco Giants, his ETA could certainly be accelerated.

This year’s MLB Draft takes place on June 12, so Houck has roughly six weeks to improve his stock.