Red Sox top pitching prospect Tanner Houck, who had a right flexor injury in early May, tossed three innings for Triple-A Worcester Thursday night in his return to the mound.

Houck fired 45 pitches (26 strikes) in the WooSox’s 3-2 win over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The right-hander didn’t allow a run, nor a hit while walking just one, and striking out six of the 10 batters he faced. He was scheduled to throw just two innings, but with the right-hander dealing, manager Billy McMillon elected to give him another inning.

Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram said Houck was consistently reaching 96 MPH on his fastball.

“I felt 100 percent,” Houck said. “Excited to keep building up. Excited for next week whenever I get back on the mound. Excited for two days from now working out of the bullpen. It’s a matter of showing up every day and giving what you can and just keep repeating.”

Houck, 24, ranks as the fifth overall Red Sox prospect on soxprospects.com, behind Gilberto Jimenez, Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, and Triston Casas while ranking as the top pitcher in the system.

The 2017 first-round draft pick out of Missouri has appeared in three games (two starts) this season with the Red Sox, allowing seven runs (five earned) off 14 hits, while striking out 12 through 10 1/3. Houck has just one start prior to Thursday with the WooSox this season, where he allowed three runs through three innings before getting injured.

Houck was one of the few bright spots on the 2020 Red Sox, where through three starts (17 innings) Houck allowed just one run. From 2017-2019 in the Red Sox system, appearing in Low-A, High-A, Double-A and Triple-A across those three seasons, the lanky right-hander posted a 4.08 ERA through 249 innings, and 66 appearances (50 starts).

 

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