Zach Houchins, Third Baseman/Shortstop
HT : 6'3
WT : 185 lb.
DOB : September 16, 1992, Wilson, NC
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : East Carolina University (Greenville, NC)
Acquired : Drafted in 13th round (389th overall) of 2014 June Draft
Stock : Rising
Cool Notes : Does not use Social Media
Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way. He said some stuff on social media once, got in trouble, that's in the past, so we can all move on.
Okay, that's done. Let's talk about a talented baseball player. Zach Houchins was considered a steal in the last draft, and for good reason. This toolsy player could develop into an elite prospect in the Los Angeles Angels farm system with time, and has dominated competition early in his professional career.
Houchins comes with a bit of free swing abilities, capitalizing by placing the ball all over the field. He has a great approach and above average understanding of the game. Houchins has good bat speed, which brings gap-to-gap power, and has some over the fence power as well.
One scout said Houchins doesn't have a "good arm, but a great arm." Houchins' glove and arm are already a league above of the competition. He played soccer in high school which makes sense for his quick feet and reaction to the ball.
Despite the good reaction, it's unlikely he'll be able to play shortstop consistently enough to stay at the position. This also comes with his speed, which isn't slow, but a little near average.
Houchins has experience at multiple defensive positions, giving him a slight edge, as he has potential to play the entire infield. Like we said above though, it is more likely he'll spend his time at third base.
At Wilson Hunt High School, Houchins was a three-lettr winner and team captain. Houchins hit .350 as a sophomore and .470 with four home runs at a junior. Houchins began his senior season with a 17-game hit streak, and had 18 multi-hit games, and 12 multi-run games. He finished the season with a .537 average, six home runs, 14 doubles, 31 runs batted, 37 runs scored and a .747 slugging percentage. This helped earn him 3A North Carolina All-State and Big East Player of the Year honors. He was also named a two-time Big East All-Conference selection (2009-10)
In his first year or college ball, at Louisburg College, Houchins hit .349 with four home runs, 35 runs batted in, 27 runs scored, 14 doubles, a triple, and seven stolen bases, while slugging .640. Houchins had 19 multi-hit games, and 10 multi-RBI games. He followed this up with a sophomore year that saw a .394 average, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, 68 runs scored, 20 doubles, and two triples. Houchins drew 26 walks and stole 16 bases.
In his first year at ECU, Houchins hit .317 with five home runs, 42 RBI, four game winning RBI, and scored 34 times, all ranked second on the team. Houchins lead the team in doubles and triples at 18 and two. Houchins had 15 multi-hit games and 12 multi-RBI games, and finished the season reaching base in 18 straight. Houchins ranked second in doubles in the Conference-USA, third in slugging percentage, and sixth in RBI. He was named to the Conference-USA All-Tournament Team, and Second-Team All-Conference USA.
Houchins put together a .347/.398/.450 slash in his final season at ECU, with 16 doubles, three home runs, 26 RBI, six stolen bases and 109 total bases in 59 games. He lead the C-USA with 84 hits, which also ranked 23rd in the nation. Houchins reached base safely in his final 12 games, and collected a hit in 47 of his 59 games, with 27 multi-hit games and 21 games in which he scored at least once. He was named a preseason First-Team All C-USA member, and finished the season as the Williams Jungle Hitter of the Year and a First-Team All-Conference USA honoree.
Houchins dominated in first taste of pro ball, posting a .388/.442/.626 slash in Rookie Orem. He collected 39 RBI and scored the same amount, while hitting 13 doubles, one triple, and six home runs. He reached base in 31 of his 36 games. He picked up 16 multi-hit games, including a stretch of six games straight where he went 16-for-28 with four doubles and two home runs. In 45 at bats with runners in scoring position, Houchins went 26-for-45 with eight extra base hits and a 1.478 OPS.
Houchins earned a call up to Single-A, where he reached base in 11 of his first 12 games. He did struggle against tougher competition, finishing with a .200/.258/.255 slash.
Houchins got a taste of Single-A, and it's most likely where he'll return in 2015. A strong Spring Training could earn him a spot in High-A, but it is most likely he'll return to Burlington to develop and see competition he struggled against early.
Houchins was drafted in the teen rounds, but this doesn't mean he doesn't have Major League potential. It's near obvious that Houchins will be a third baseman, which is an advantage for him due to the Angels lack of depth in the position. His current ETA is late 2018.
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Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for InsideTheHalos.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.