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Tigers prospect Tarik Skubal is making a good impression this spring

Skubal battled injuries in college, but the Tigers may have gotten a bargain as a result.

Terri Nummer

Jason Woodell has been a scout for a number of prospect sites over the years. He provided this on-site report on Tarik Skubal to Bless You Boys, and his video and short reports can be found @jasonAtTheGame on Twitter.

Tarik Skubal, LHP

Age: 22 (11/20/96)
Team: Lakeland Flying Tigers (High A)
Height/Weight: 6’3” 230 lbs.
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft - 9th round, 255 overall - Detroit Tigers

Skubal is a strong, physical lefty. His body is solid with good present strength with little, if any, projection. He has a high leg kick with a high ¾ release. He will mix in the occasional slide step with runners on. Clocked 1.78 to home from the stretch with the leg kick. Skubal hides the ball well and his cross body action adds deception. While the control issues that plagued Skubal as an amateur appear to have improved, he is still a “control over command” guy at this stage.

Skubal has been lights out in his first 16 innings of 2019 after posting 33:4 K:BB in 2018. However, in my first look he struggled. His fastball sat 91-93 mph, touching 94 early. The pitch was mostly flat but Skubal was able to stay away from the barrel in the first inning. I did not see much run or sink on the pitch. Overall, the fastball lacked life and did not profile as a strikeout pitch.

His curve and slider seemed to run together. While the curve flashes 1-6 shape and sat 79-81 mph while his slider sat 82-84 mph. The slider was flat, lacking tilt, and left up in the zone. Neither pitch generated consistent swing-and-miss though the two did register his only two strikeouts of the game. I only saw one change-up which led to a two-strike infield single.

Pitching without his best stuff, Skubal struggled to consistently command his fastball arm side. Even if his slider and curve play up to average pitches, he’ll need to improve command in the zone. Left-handed hitters seemed to have no problem spoiling pitches before hitting his fastball. Lefties were able to effectively eliminate the inside portion of the plate, feasting on fastballs away. Don’t be surprised if he becomes a reverse-split lefty due to his FB/CH/SL combo. He routinely tried to go inside against RHH and was punished when he missed his spots or failed to snap off even an average slider.

After a scoreless first, Skubal gave up a leadoff single before two quick outs. The inning snowballed on him after that. He gave up back-to-back doubles, an infield single, another double, and then a single that he helped turn into a Little League HR. His night was done. He threw 36 fastballs, 3 curves, 7 sliders, and 1 change.

Overall, there is a lot to like with Skubal. He has the prototypical body, repeats his delivery, and has touched 97 mph in the past. The curve and slider lack separation and advanced hitters can eliminate pitches against him. Would have liked to have seen more change-ups. He’ll be a guy that should be developed into a starter although I think long-term he ends up in the bullpen.