Creating a top prospect list is not easy, even when some of the decisions seem rather obvious. Casey Mize will again be the top prospect in the Tigers system when our midseason rankings come out — and almost surely when 2020 lists are released next year — with Matt Manning close behind. Those two have established themselves as the 1a and 1b in the Tigers system, with a couple of our writers even pushing the younger Manning ahead of Mize in their personal rankings.
After that, it gets a lot more difficult. Isaac Paredes and Daz Cameron are two of the top position prospects in the system, but now Riley Greene and his otherworldly potential joins the conversation. Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser are on the doorstep of the big leagues, but injuries have derailed them this year. Alex Faedo is having a bounce-back year, while Franklin Perez is on the shelf once again.
Then there’s Tarik Skubal. A ninth round pick out of Seattle University in 2018, Skubal didn’t even make our preseason top 30 list after a dominant cameo in the lower minors last summer. He has opened some eyes this year, however, both locally and on the national level. Skubal will certainly jump into our rankings this summer (and next spring), but how high he goes is an open question.
That’s where our Question of the Day comes in.
Where should Tarik Skubal rank on our midseason prospect list?
My answer: Without subjecting my full list to the internet’s ridicule, I have Skubal ranked somewhere in the early to mid-teens in the Tigers farm system. He is behind six other starters on my list — righthander Kyle Funkhouser is the non-obvious one — but ahead of the other starters in Single-A ball and any reliever in the system. Skubal’s raw stuff is impressive, but we’ve seen many a lefthander utterly dominate hitters in the lower minors before running into more resistance at Double-A.
But that raw stuff is the reason why Skubal ranks so much higher (or even ranks at all) on my list. With a fastball that reaches as high as 95 miles per hour, he has the raw stuff to succeed at the major league level in the way that other lefties who dominated Single-A ball — the Matt Halls and Austin Sodderses of the world — do not. Skubal’s fastball could potentially even reach the high 90s if he is shuttled to a bullpen role.
He will be given every chance to start, however, and for good reason. His secondary stuff has impressed Tigers brass, and he has garnered praise for his poise on the mound as well. But until he does the same at Double-A, he sits just a hair behind some of the more advanced arms in the Tigers system.