TigsTown Scouting Report #4: LHP Tarik Skubal
Skubal had arguably the biggest breakout of any Tigers prospect in 2020, vaulting himself from unknown to Top 100 in baseball.
Position: Left-Handed Pitcher
Date of Birth: 10/20/1996 (Opening Day 2020: 23)
Height/Weight: 6’3”/215 lbs
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 9th Round, 255th Overall
The Good: Skubal’s dominance last year was fueled by a filthy one-two punch that includes his fastball and slider. Sitting in the low- to mid-90s and reaching as high as 97 mph, Skubal’s fastball exhibits plus movement, keeping him away from barrels even when hitters are able to time him up. His slider is a darting second pitch that generates swings and misses in the zone while also successfully being employed as a chase pitch. After struggling to throw strikes his final year in college, Skubal improved by leaps and bounds in 2019, spotting his fastball to both sides of the plate and manipulating the location of his slider with ease, leaving many scouts to project him for above-average command.
The Bad: There’s still work to be done with the changeup, but it’s not as though the pitch is that far off. Occasionally flashing in the average to solid-average range with good deception and enough movement to make it effective, Skubal could still coax out a third quality pitch. He will mix a fringy curveball at times but is unlikely to rely on it in big spots. There’s Tommy John surgery on the resume and Skubal still needs to demonstrate he can handle a full season’s workload.
Risk: Skubal would hardly be the first breakout pitching prospect to stagnate or even regress slightly the following year. Even without the presence of that risk, Skubal still needs more consistency with the changeup and he’ll need to prove he can sustain the control/command gains he displayed last season.
Projection: With only nine starts – albeit dominating ones – at Double-A in 2019, Skubal could be a candidate to return there for the start of the upcoming season as the Tigers sort through a potential logjam of pitchers at the upper levels. Regardless of his starting assignment, he could reach Detroit late this season and has the potential to match Manning as a quality mid-rotation starter that misses bats at an exceptional rate.