You know a pitcher has incredible potential when the fact that he’s been out for more than a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery doesn’t deter major league teams from using a draft pick, albeit a late-round draft pick, on him.
Seattle’s Tarik Skubal has incredible potential.
Despite having not pitched since the 2016 regular season, Skubal was selected in the 29th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2017 draft. Even though the 29th round is little more than a lottery ticket for the drafting team, it says a lot that Arizona was willing to select Skubal when you consider how much uncertainty there is when a pitcher has undergone UCL reconstruction.
The Diamondbacks certainly aren’t alone in their bullishness over Skubal’s potential. In their most recent top 100 prospect rankings, D1Baseball.com placed Skubal 67th on the list, suggesting that simply showing that he’s healthy and back to something close to full strength next season should rocket the lefty back up draft boards in time for the 2018 draft.
When he has been healthy, he’s been nothing but effective for the Redhawks.
As a freshman in 2015, he went 7-4 with a 3.24 ERA. In 17 appearances, 14 of which were starts, he tossed 83.1 innings, striking out 68, walking 27, and allowing a .224 opponent batting average on the way to being named Second Team All-WAC and collecting Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball.
In 2016, before his season was cut short due to his injury, he was well on the way to becoming utterly dominant. In 42.2 innings over eight starts, he had a 6-1 record, a 2.11 ERA, a 50/17 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .208 opponent batting average. Seattle ended up going 37-21 overall with a 21-6 WAC record that was good enough to win them the league title, but they fell one game short of the WAC’s automatic bid by losing the conference tournament final to Utah Valley, and you can’t help but wonder if Skubal being healthy and available would have put them over the hump.
Heading into 2018, Skubal will try to make up for lost time and lead a Seattle pitching staff that really struggled in 2017 to the tune of a 5.97 team ERA. It takes more than one pitcher, of course, to turn around the fortunes of an entire staff, but one special talent can go a long way toward doing so, and we’ve clearly established that Tarik Skubal is a special talent.