The Arizona Diamondbacks are a franchise that is rich with young pitching prospects. Prior to last season a lot of the attention went to Trevor Bauer, but he ultimately rubbed the organization the wrong way and was sent to Cleveland earlier this winter. That has left a new sheriff in town, though one could easily argue that his ability is just as, if not more, impressive.
Tyler Skaggs made his Major League debut in 2012, posting an abysmal 5.83 ERA and 1.47 WHIP as he displayed nearly none of the skills that helped the 2009 first round draft pick (40th overall) rise through the minors. Acquired from the Angels as a key part of the Dann Haren trade, Skaggs has posted a Minor league career K/9 of 9.90 and BB/9 of 2.61. Yet, in his first taste of Major League Baseball, he was at 6.44 and 3.99.
The strikeouts did fall off a bit upon reaching Triple-A in 2012, posting a 7.69 mark. It is something to pay attention to, but all you have to do is read the scouting reports to know that he should recover. Here is how Baseball America, who ranked him as the team’s top prospect heading into 2013, described his repertoire:
“The jewel of Skaggs’ repertoire is a sharp 12-to-6 curveball that he throws in the mid-70s. It features late, sharp break and is regarded as one of the best in the minors. He set it up with a fastball that ranges from 89-94 mph and features some armside run. He delivers his heater with good downhill plane and spots it to both sides of the plate. He throws in the low 90s more consistently than he ever has, and he also has improved his fastball command as well. Skaggs’ changeup gives him a potential third plus pitch, but he needs to trust it more. It arrives at 78-80 mph, has some fade and plays well off his fastball. He can dominate hitters when all three pitches are working for him.”
Is he going to be a strikeout per inning guy? Probably not, though would anyone complain if he settled in as an 8.0 K/9 type of pitcher (plus or minus .25)? Couple that type of upside with being left-handed, and you instantly get an intriguing pitcher.
Now, you throw in good control as well? What about the potential to also generate groundballs? He didn’t show it in the Major Leagues (28.8% groundball rate according to Minor League Central), but over the past two seasons in the minors he has a groundball rate of 44.3%. It’s not elite, but it certainly is more than enough.
Keep in mind, one of his biggest issues during his brief stint in the Majors was a 1.84 HR/9. Given his stuff and the groundball rate he showed in the minors, that is something that should be corrected for 2013.
The talent is obviously there and, after watching Wade Miley make an immediate impact in 2012, there is a good chance the Diamondbacks are willing to house a rookie in their rotation once again. They have an opening and Skaggs has a realistic chance of breaking camp with the team.
He has the talent to contend for the Rookie of the Year in 2013 and is well worth the late round investment it will take.
What are your thoughts of Skaggs? Is he a pitcher you think can thrive in 2013? Why or why not?
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Make sure to check out the rest of our 2013 Prospect Reports: