As the first round of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft took shape, the Boston Red Sox watched other prospects snatched. But the big man with the big sinker was there when Boston was ready to draft with the 24th overall pick.

Boston chose 6-foot-5, 200-pound Tanner Houck of the University of Missouri. Houck is known for his sinking fastball, between 90 and 95 mph.

In the second round, the Red Sox chose Cole Brannen, a high school outfielder from Georgia.Houck, according to scouting reports, needs work on his slider, and his change-up is developing.

This year, his junior season, Houck went 4-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He struck out 95 and walked 24 in 942/3 inning. Opponents his .220 against him.

Houck started his Southeastern Conference schedule with seven shutout innings of one-hit ball against Alabama. His season was up and down from there.

The Red Sox had not chosen a college pitcher this high since they picked Connecticut’s Matt Barnes 19th in 2011. In 2006, Boston chose North Carolina’s Daniel Bard 28th. Both Barnes and Bard eventually became relievers. Barnes is still in the Red Sox bullpen.


Houck may also become a reliever, depending how his secondary pitches develop.

Early on Monday night, players that the Red Sox were rumored to want, were picked by other teams. California-Irvine second baseman/outfielder Keston Hiura, considered the best college hitter despite elbow problems, was drafted No. 9 by the Brewers.

Some mock drafts had Boston wanting Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger for his power. But the White Sox liked him, too, and picked him 11th.

University of South Carolina pitcher Clarke Schmidt just had Tommy John surgery. But he’s still a talent and the Yankees chose him 16th.

Left-handed pitcher David Peterson was a high school draft pick of the Red Sox, but he chose Oregon. Now eligible for the draft again, the Red Sox did not get a chance at him. The Mets picked him at No. 20.

University of North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth may someday play in the American League East, but it will be with the Blue Jays (22nd).


IN PAWTUCKET, Hector Velazquez has rebounded from his horrible major league debut on May 18 (six earned run, five innings). Since coming back to Triple-A, he is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four appearances (15 strikeouts/three walks).

IN PORTLAND, first baseman Nick Longhi enjoyed the recent six-game homestand: .428 with six doubles, a home run and nine RBI … Outfielder Danny Mars does not hit the ball far, but he hits it often, and is now batting .310 … Utility player Tzu-Wei Lin is coming back from his wrist injury and is back over .300 (.306) … Rafael Devers hit .410 with five doubles and two home runs over the last 10 games. He’s batting .307/.907. The Sea Dogs begin a nine-day trip Tuesday. It will be curious to see if Devers is still with the team when it returns to Portland.

IN SALEM, five Red Sox players were named Carolina League All-Stars – pitchers Dedgar Jimenez (8-1, 3.27) and reliever Trevor Kelly (five saves, 1.69 ERA), and infielders Michael Chavis (.335/1.078), Josh Ockimey (.302/.884) and Chad De La Guerra (.318/.896) … Chavis hit his 16th home run on Sunday … Jimenez, 21, is a left-hander from Venezuela. Signed for $175,000 in 2012, he had not done much until this season. He has 64 strikeouts in 631/3 innings … The All-Star Game is in Salem on June 20. In previous years, some All-Stars have been promoted after the game.

IN GREENVILLE, Bryan Mata is getting more and more intriguing. Another pitcher from Venezuela (only a $25,000 bonus), Mata skipped two levels of the minor league ladder (Gulf Coast League and Lowell) and was assigned to Greenville on May 26 – just three weeks after his 18th birthday. He has shined in four starts – 1-0, 1.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 20 strikeouts/five walks in 21 innings. After being limited to three innings his first start, he has gone six for the next three.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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