Tagged: Tyler Skaggs

Pitching Trio Happy With Performances

Brandon Webb, Jarrod Parker and Tyler Skaggs could not be further apart along a spectrum of experience in pitching, but the three of them took the mound of the first innings of the D-backs Instructional League game against the Rockies squad at Chase Field Thursday.


The three all pitched under somewhat different circumstances, but all felt good about their performances.


Brandon Webb threw the first two innings, as he continues his rehabilitation from a shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2010 season and all but one start in 2009; the last time he pitched at Chase Field was against the Rockies’ big league team on Opening Day of 2009. Webb said the start felt the way they always do, with the exception of the team’s location — the D-backs team was in the first base dugout, rather than their customary spot in the third base dugout.


“It felt good,” Webb said. “It was a little bit different warming up in the visitor’s bullpen, but other than that it felt good. It kind of went the way that it has been in bullpens and sim games and stuff like that. In the second inning, I ended up feeling better, even though I gave up a couple of runs. It felt like I was a little tired, but it was good.


“The best part about it was just being out there and being back on the mound competing.”


Parker followed with two innings of his own, including blowing away the first batter he faced with a strikeout. He lost his 2010 season to Tommy John Surgery, replacing a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. His fastball velocity was mid-90s and his delivery looked strong.


“I feel like I’m close to being back,” Parker said. “My delivery is a little cleaner now and the ball feels good coming out. I’m more consistent with my off-speed than I have been in the past.


“I’m finishing (the mechanics) a little bit more, getting a little more out of my body and shoulder, taking some stress off of my elbow.”


The game was the first at Chase Field in Parker’s career. It was also the first time since surgery he’s pitched to anyone that wasn’t wearing a D-backs uniform.


“It was fun,” he said. “Once they told me (about the game at Chase Field) I was really anxious. I just had to keep it under control. I had a blast getting out there and facing the Rockies.”


Chase Field is a realistic destination for Parker in 2011, assuming rehabilitation continues to go well. He’ll finish out his throwing program which is almost over, then head home to Indiana for the holidays. After that, he’ll report back to D-backs camp prepared to start the season.


He pitched 78 innings at Double-A Mobile in 2009, so there’s a chance he could start at either Mobile or Triple-A Reno to begin the year.


Skaggs isn’t rehabbing from an injury, but he is new to the organization since arriving as the Player to be Named Later in the deal that sent Dan Haren to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This was a first look at Skaggs for some people with the D-backs. The tall lefty allowed a baserunner, but then quickly induced a double play to end his inning.


“Everything felt good. Curveball, changeup felt good,” Skaggs said. “Everything felt pretty fluid. My fastball and curveball are good but I really need to work on pitching instead of just throwing.”


It was the first time Skaggs had ever pitched in a big league stadium, and while he is considerably farther away from the Major Leagues than Parker, he also was able to use it as motivation to make it back to Phoenix.


“It was pretty exciting. It’s a very big stadium, my first time pitching in a big league stadium. It felt really good.”


I hope to have some video to post tomorrow for the three pitchers working. Check back here for more.

Introducing Tyler Skaggs

By Dan Strittmatter

Photo from Orange County Register 


If nothing else, Tyler Skaggs will bring phenomenal long-toss skills to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he may well be in the best shape of his life.


When the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels went down in late July, bringing pitchers Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez and Patrick Corbin to Arizona with a player to be named later, many media outlets quickly leaked that Skaggs was the D-backs’ target for the PTBNL.


However, Skaggs could not be traded until Aug. 7. Players are not allowed to be dealt until one year after signing their first professional baseball contract, and that was the date one year ago that Skaggs signed with the Angels after being taken 40th overall in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. So, after pitching on July 23 for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Angels’ Low-A affiliate in the Midwest League, Skaggs was effectively in limbo. 


The D-backs wanted him as the final piece in the trade, so (according to the Orange County Register) they asked the Angels to keep Skaggs from doing any impact activities — lifting weights, throwing a bullpen session, or, of course, pitching game for Cedar Rapids. He would show up to the park for the games, hang around the clubhouse, and be in the dugout, in uniform, for their games. But what activities could Skaggs do? Long-toss and running.


On Aug. 7, the trade was completed and Skaggs was sent to the D-backs’ Midwest League affiliate in South Bend. He became the youngest pitcher on the roster — a mere 10 days younger than Scottie Allen — and the youngest position player on the roster, shortstop Chris Owings, is almost a month younger than Skaggs.


The D-backs were very high on Skaggs going into last year’s draft. They had seven of the first 64 picks in the draft, and one of those was the 41st overall. The Angels, however, had pick No. 40 and they grabbed Skaggs just ahead of the D-backs.


It took them over a year, but the D-backs now have their man. And if the team liked Skaggs a year ago coming out of high school, his performances thus far in professional ball must have them infatuated.


Skaggs threw a handful of innings in Rookie-ball for the Angels in 2010, striking out 13 and walking just two in 10 innings of work.


But it’s Skaggs’ 2010 season that has to have the D-backs excited. Despite just turning 19 less than a month ago, Skaggs has been toxic to the Midwest League, striking out 82 batters in 82 1/3 innings of work with just 21 walks and six home runs allowed. Opponents are hitting a mere .252 against him and he does a good job of keeping the ball on the ground, with more than 50% of balls put in play against Skaggs are ground balls (according to minorleaguesplits.com).


To put these numbers in perspective, the average age of hitters in the Midwest League, according to Baseball-Reference.com, is 21.4 years. So Skaggs is pitching against guys who are, on average, more than two years older than him, and nonetheless the results have been dominant.


Skaggs currently sits in the low-90s with his fastball, though with his height (6-foot-4) and thin frame, there may be more velocity on that fastball as his body fills out and develops. He also features a curveball, his best out-pitch, and a developing change-up that may be the key to his success going forward.


It will take a while for Skaggs to take the field for South Bend, as he now has to throw short bullpen sessions to begin stretching out his arm after being inactive for a couple weeks. But Skaggs, who instantly becomes one of the elite prospects in the D-backs’ system, is likely glad to be pitching again, in any capacity.


After all, it’s got to be better than long-toss and running.