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Prospect Houck to make MLB debut vs. Fish

@IanMBrowne
September 13, 2020

The Red Sox have brought some spice to Tuesday’s opener of a three-game series in Miami by announcing that Tanner Houck, the club’s No. 10 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, will make the start. For the 24-year-old righty, Boston’s first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, it will be his

The Red Sox have brought some spice to Tuesday’s opener of a three-game series in Miami by announcing that Tanner Houck, the club’s No. 10 prospect as ranked by MLB Pipeline, will make the start.

For the 24-year-old righty, Boston’s first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, it will be his Major League debut. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET, live on MLB.TV.

“Definitely excited,” said Houck. “It’s been a dream of mine since I started playing baseball, so finally getting that call to make my debut and get that start, I’m truly honored. Very excited for it as well. It’s something I’ve been working my whole life for, so I guess it’s a dream come true.”

Houck has worked hard this summer at the alternate training site in Pawtucket, R.I., to make sure he’s ready for that dream.

His weakness going into the season was getting lefties out. Houck thinks he has rectified that issue by altering his pitch mix.

“I definitely feel a lot more confident with lefties. I’ve definitely added a new weapon with the splitter,” Houck said. “I banged my changeup about two months ago. I was kind of on the fence with both of them for a while there throwing the changeup and the split. One day they were like, 'Here are the numbers, and your split plays way better to righties and lefties.'

“It just kind of opened up a new avenue and focused my mind completely along with continuing with developing the glove-side along with the four-seam fastball, and continuing to throw [the] two-seam and slider has been a big thing getting out lefties.”

For Houck, the thrill of knowing he is going to make his MLB debut on Tuesday turned emotional when he spoke to his mother.

“She definitely started crying,” Houck said. “That was the first thing. She was like, ‘Cool, I have to stop crying here for a second.’ Just getting to share that moment with her was truly special. She’s been there from the beginning. She was the one that, countless nights, driving over to St. Louis about 45 minutes just to take me to a pitching lesson because I was seven years old saying I want to pitch in the Major Leagues one day. So she definitely started crying and it was just a surreal moment getting to do that with her.”

Almost unfathomably, Houck will become the 15th different pitcher to start a game for the Red Sox this season. Tuesday will be Boston’s 49th game of the shortened 60-game regular season.

Unlike the many openers the Red Sox have used, Houck should be ready for a traditional start.

“I know whenever I was down in Pawtucket, I was up to 90 pitches between five and six innings. I think I did that twice,” said Houck. “I feel pretty confident going 90 to 100 pitches. I take pride in that, honestly. I take pride in being able to get through six, seven innings every time, 100 times, and just go out there and have a bulldog mentality.”

For Houck, the hardest part about Tuesday will be to channel his emotions.

“Right now, I’ve just got to embrace it and kind of let all the emotions out,” Houck said. “I know Tuesday will be a little bit different feeling, the heart will probably be pounding a little bit different, maybe a few butterflies, but just knowing that it’s still the same game, it’s still 60 feet, 6 inches to home plate and I just got to execute my gameplan and if I do that, I’m really confident.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.