Meet Detroit Tigers lefty prospect Tarik Skubal, maybe the steal of 2018 draft

Jeff Seidel
Detroit Free Press

After the Detroit Tigers 2018 MLB draft, most of the focus was on Casey Mize, the first-overall selection.

For good reason.

Mize has been outstanding, climbing to Double-A Erie and he promptly threw a no-hitter in his debut for the Erie SeaWolves.

There have been others from that draft who have generated headlines and buzz: outfielder Parker Meadows (second round), second baseman Kody Clemens (third round) and outfielder Brock Deatherage (10th round).

But here’s another player from that draft who keeps turning heads: Tarik Skubal, a left-handed pitcher, whose fastball touches 95 m.p.h.

Because it’s starting to look like the Tigers found a gem in the ninth round.

Detroit Tigers prospect Tarik Skubal, shown pitching for Lakeland in April 2019, was drafted by the Tigers in the ninth round of the 2018 MLB draft.

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If he continues to develop, it will be an all-out steal. 

On Tuesday afternoon, he jumped inside the Tigers' top 30 prospects as ranked by the MLB Pipeline. He's No. 19. 

Skubal has 41 strikeouts for Single-A Lakeland, which not only leads the Florida State League but ranks 10th in all of minor league baseball.

“He can throw his curveball over the plate,” Tigers roving pitching instructor A.J. Sager said. “He has the fastball. He seems to be able to make adjustments during the game.”

He pitched on Saturday against Bradenton, recording 10 strikeouts in six innings with just one walk.

“He had one clunker down there, but he’s been very impressive,” Sager said. “A strike thrower and the stuff has been good. Enough fastball. Two different breaking balls and a change-up.”

Skubal was a 2015 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American at Seattle University. But he redshirted in 2017 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He came back and regained his velocity, recording 106 strikeouts in 80 innings but he struggled with his command, walking 56. Those walks might have scared off other teams, but the Tigers took him in the ninth round.

Since he has joined the Tigers, he has had no control issues. He bounced through three levels last year, dominating along the way.

Detroit Tigers prospect Tarik Skubal, shown pitching for Lakeland in April 2019, was drafted by the Tigers in the ninth round of the 2018 MLB draft.

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Most significantly, he struck out 33 with just four walks in 22⅓ innings.

Or fantastic.

The Tigers limited him because he had already pitched in college.

“He was completely healthy,” Sager said. “And that was the first season after missing a season because of an elbow. We just felt he had enough work last year. The people who got a little look at him last year were all saying impressive things about him.”

Even more than what he did on the field, the Tigers were impressed with his makeup.

“You had a kid who carried himself the right way,” Sager said. “Didn’t seem overwhelmed by anything. He certainly has the weapons to be successful. Now, we have to keep him healthy, keep him working and let him develop.”

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