A year after the Tigers drafted lefthander Tarik Skubal in the ninth round in 2018, he has opened eyes as a pitcher with the potential to join top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning as the southpaw complement in a future rotation.
“In his first year after the draft, at an advanced level like (high Class A) Lakeland, he’s put up real good numbers,” vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said. “He’s commanding his pitches and using three pitches very effectively.”
Through 12 starts with the Flying Tigers, Skubal had posted a 3.08 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Most impressively, he had struck out 72 batters in 61.1 innings.
Skubal was drafted out of Seattle University and made an immediate impression last season, dominating his way from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to low Class A West Michigan. He pitched mainly in relief to control his workload but moved back to the rotation this season.
The 22-year-old Skubal had Tommy John surgery in 2016.
“We wanted to be cautious and make sure that going into 2019, we had a healthy guy,” Littlefield said.
The scouting community favors Skubal sticking as a starter. He has four pitches at his disposal, including a low-to-mid-90 mph fastball, though refinement is certainly necessary in climbing the ladder, especially with his breaking pitches. He throws both a curveball and slider.
Given Skubal’s strong start this season, and his pitchability, a promotion to Double-A Erie might not be far away.
“The players kind of point you in the direction with where to go, and the numbers that he’s put up as a first full season guy, they’re impressive,” Littlefield said. “Very mature, definitely advanced—he’s a smart, competitive guy who knows what he’s doing out there.
“Obviously, there’s room for improvement at this stage in his professional career, but he looks very good. That’s certainly within the scope of things if he continues at this pace, possibly going to Double-A.”