The Detroit Tigers have plenty of prospect pitching arms from former first-rounders, but Tarik Skubal is the dark horse prospect in 2020 to turn heads.
The Detroit Tigers opened up Spring Training with an exhibition against Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida on Friday. The Tigers sent Tarik Skubal out to the mound, and needless to say, it was a confident start to the season for the lefty who is a dark horse prospect for the organization in 2020. Skubal has picked up a lot more attention since 2019, rising through the Team’s prospect rankings, but initially, he was a much less known prospect.
Skubal opened up the 2020 campaign with two scoreless innings against the Southeastern Fire, striking out five of six batters faced. It was only two innings, but it is nice to see the southpaw being so dominant on the hill, starting things off on the right foot. The thing about Skubal is that he is not nearly as known as some of the other Tigers prospects like Casey Mize or Matt Manning.
Unlike the others, Skubal was selected in the ninth round of the 2018 draft out of Seattle University and since then has started rising up the ranks in the Tigers farm system. He was selected back in 2017 by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the twenty-ninth round of the draft, but he opted to go back to school. This was not shocking because Skubal lost most of 2016 and 2017 to Tommy John Surgery so 2018 was his chance to improve his draft stock which he did.
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Skubal spent 2019 with High-A Lakeland and then Double-A Erie after. He accumulated fifteen starts in High-A, where he pitched to a 4-5 record, a 2.58 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, with ninety-seven punchouts over 80.1 innings pitched. After his promotion to Double-A Erie, Skubal would make nine starts with the Seawolves, producing a 2-3 record, with a 2.13 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and eighty-two punch outs over 42.1 innings pitched.
Skubal’s 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame projects him as a future left-handed starter for the Tigers in the big leagues. He features a high leg kick from the left side and can run his fastball up to the higher 90s with a hammer of a curveball. His changeup is also underrated and can induce some swings and misses, especially when thrown inside to left-handed hitters, but the curveball remains as his go-to offspeed pitch.
On top of all this, Skubal has been developing a tight slider that has fared well in getting plenty of hitters to swing and miss. Skubal has developed quickly and at a high level, showing the organization that he is going to be something for them even though he may not get nearly as much coverage as the “flashy” name prospects.
Look for Skubal to turn heads in 2020 and emerge as the dark horse prospect in this rebuilding Tigers organization.