Proving once again the unpredictability of premier pitching prospects, Tyler Skaggs, with a spot in the D’backs’ rotation on the line, struggled this spring training and was sent to triple-A.
Like ThomasLynch wrote here, the D’backs have several decent options for the fifth spot in the rotation, so the team wasn’t relying on Skaggs to win the job.
Spring training numbers are largely dismissible. The sample size is so small that it has little bearing on how teams, scouts and fans (should) evaluate players. However, if during that small sample, something changes, mechanically, injury-wise or, for pitchers, velocity wise, that could be concerning.
According to Keith Law during his “Klaw Chat” on ESPN, Skaggs may have shown some dip in velocity during spring training.
Skaggs’ “velocity wasn’t all there this spring, which isn’t a great sign. At 92-94 with that curveball, he’s a potential #2 [starter.] At 88-91, he’s not,” he wrote in reply to a commenter.
Now, according to BrooksBaseball.net, Skaggs’ average fastball velocity during the spring was actually 91.19, which is higher than his average of 90.23 in 2012. (Remember, the pitch f/x data only accounts for Skaggs’ major league innings.)
So, who to believe? Law and Brooks Baseball contradict one another. And given Skaggs’ results during the spring, I am inclined to lean towards Law.
If Law is accurate, it could mean one of several things. Skaggs could have a minor injury, a major injury, something is wrong mechanically or even just normal drop in velocity during the spring. Some pitchers lose two to four MPH during the spring and gain it back in April. But at the very least, it is concerning.
I remember a few short months ago, the D’backs 2014 projected rotation consisted of Bauer, Skaggs, Jarrod Parker, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. Now? Two of those guys were traded, Hudson is recovering from Tommy John surgery, Kennedy has regressed and Skaggs’ future is a little bit less bright.