30 Prospects in 30 Days: Tyler Skaggs – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks
Tyler Skaggs was drafted out of high school in the first round of the 2009 draft (#40 overall) by the Los Angeles Angels. He got to Arizona by way of trade when he was part of the package that the Diamondbacks got in return for Dan Haren. Skaggs is a lefty with a good size (6’3”, 195 lbs) who offers a fastball that sits 91-93, a big curveball, and a solid change-up. Keith Law says all three are above-average-to-plus pitches. As a result, Law has him ranked as the #13 prospect in baseball and says he is the best left-hander still in the minors. The other prospect rankings love him as well. Baseball America lists him as the #1 prospect in the Arizona system, and MLB.com has him ranked as the #10 prospect in baseball.
Skaggs’ minor league career really began in 2010 when he made 18 starts in A ball (along with five relief appearances). He started off as expected: strong. He had an ERA in the mid-threes (FIP around 3.00) and an above average strikeout-to-walk profile as he struck out just over a batter per inning while walking less than 7% of the batters he faced.
The next year he got bumped up to high-A to start the year. Skaggs once again met expectations by posting an ERA of 3.22 (2.65 FIP) while striking out over 30% of the batters he faced. His walk rate jumped up a tad, but at 8% it wasn’t enough of a concern for Arizona to delay moving him up after a strong 17 starts. In ten starts at AA to finish up the season, Skaggs once again delivered. His ERA was 2.50 (2.45 FIP), he struck out 32% of the batters he faced, and his walk rate bounced back to 6.6%.
He spent 13 more starts at AA in 2012 to start the year, and the strikeouts dipped and the walks rose a bit, but Skaggs still earned another promotion with a sub-3.00 ERA. In nine starts at AAA, Skaggs again had a sub-3.00 ERA, but the strikeouts dipped a little more, and his walk rate remained average. Skaggs made a six start debut at the end of last season. For the first time, Skaggs didn’t meet expectations at a new level. His ERA was over 5.00 and close to 6.00 while his strikeout rate (15.8%) and walk rate (9.8%) were below average. But it’s obviously no cause for concern. It was his first taste of the bigs and an adjustment period is almost mandatory. Plus, the kid was just 21 years old, and it was a small 30 inning sample size.
Unfortunately (for Skaggs and his potential owners anyway), Skaggs will not crack the rotation to begin 2013. He was recently optioned to AAA, so the final spot will go to recently acquired Randall Delgado or Patrick Corbin. And to some degree, it’s hard to figure out when Skaggs will become a regular part of the rotation because Arizona is all of sudden very deep in the rotation. Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy form a solid top four, and the D’Backs obviously think Delgado and Corbin are ahead of Skaggs on the depth chart for now at least. Not to mention Daniel Hudson who had Tommy John surgery last July.
Injuries and poor performance from some of the guys ahead of him could always create an opportunity for Skaggs, but it’s hard to see him becoming a regular of this rotation while it’s this crowded. With that being said, Skaggs is still only worth drafting in dynasty leagues starting fresh this year as well as NL-only leagues with enough bench spots to allow you to stash him.