When a minor league player is rewarded with a promotion, he often will downplay it.
“It’s the same game at every level,” he might say.
While this is the technically true, the higher level presents new challenges, both physical and mental.
When 22-year-old lefthander Tarik Skubal was promoted to Double-A Erie in July, he went into his new assignment with that very same mentality.
“It’s baseball at every level,” said Skubal, the 2018 ninth-rounder from Seattle University who was one of the breakout prospects of 2019. “And that’s what you’re told. You’ve just got to kind of believe that.”
Skubal made the transition from the high Class A Florida State League to the Eastern League look seamless. Over 42.1 innings, Skubal struck out 10 or more in six of his nine starts for 17.4 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.13 ERA.
“I believe he can be a front-of-the-rotation guy,” a scout for a National League team said. “He has poise on the mound and deception to his delivery. He’s a high-ceiling guy.”
Skubal reaches 97 mph from the left side with a four-seam fastball, and the rest of his arsenal has no issue keeping pace.
“His double-plus heater with plus command sets up his offspeed,” the scout said. “There is a future plus hammer with downer action, and his slider is an easy plus pitch.”
The scout also lauded Skubal’s changeup for its short, tight, two-plane action and plus deception.
Skubal didn’t acquire his slider until last summer, when he learned it from teammate Adam Wolf. With that in tow, Skubal said it’s all about feel.
“I like toying with grips,” Skubal said. “I’m always changing stuff, just to find out what I like the best. My fastball, changeup and slider have stayed relatively the same. I’ve tinkered with my curveball a little bit.”
Skubal represents one of a trio of high-upside pitching prospects, along with righthanders Casey Mize and Matt Manning, for the rebuilding Tigers. The future of the organization rests on that trio, plus 2019 top pick Riley Greene and whomever is drafted No. 1 overall in 2020.
— The Tigers signed16-year-old shortstop/third baseman Roberto Campos for $3 million this summer. He defected from Cuba at age 13 and is projected by some scouts to the outfield.
Cameron, 22, will spend the winter in the Puerto Rican League, according to Tigers roving instructor Scott Fletcher. Spending the regular season with Triple-A Toledo, Cameron faced one of his most challenging seasons at the plate and the exposure this winter should benefit him.
Paredes, 20, participated in 13 games in the AFL but left midway through the season to join Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League.