The Tigers went nearly $200,000 above slot value to land Skubal in the 2018 Draft, signing the Seattle University left-hander for $350,000 after taking him in the ninth round. He emerged as one of the Draft’s biggest steals while reaching Double-A in his first full season, finishing third in the Minors in strikeouts (179) and strikeouts-per-nine (13.13) after recording double-digit strikeouts in seven of his final nine regular-season starts. He became the first player from Detroit’s 2018 Draft class to reach the Majors when he debuted against the White Sox on Aug. 18, 2020 -- beating No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize to the big leagues by one day.
Skubal pitched better in the Majors than his numbers suggest, showing numerous starter qualities and encouraging pitch metrics. He consistently beats hitters up in the zone with a high-spin fastball that averaged 94.4 mph and topped out at 98.5 mph. A mid-80s slider with late bite gives Skubal a plus secondary pitch to complement his heater, and he also can flash plus with a changeup that he threw more often than his slider with Detroit. He has a fourth pitch in a mid-70s curveball that he uses as a change-of-pace offering. He’s consistently around the zone with all four pitches, showing more control than command.
Skubal’s debut confirmed that he has the stuff to become an impact starter at the highest level. It also revealed that his fastball command and secondaries require more fine-tuning. Skubal could quickly begin to realize his potential as a No. 2 or 3 starter with improvement on those fronts.
2020 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
The D-backs took a flyer on Skubal in the 2017 Draft, selecting the Seattle University left-hander in the 29th round even though he'd missed the entire year while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Hoping to improve his Draft stock, Skubal returned to Seattle and pitched to mixed results, albeit while flashing promising raw stuff. That untapped potential intrigued the Tigers, and they went above slot to sign him for $350,000 after taking him in the ninth round in 2018. The pick already looks like one of the Draft's biggest steals, as Skubal emerged as one of the Minors' more dominant hurlers while reaching Double-A Erie in his first full season. He racked up 82 strikeouts in just 42 1/3 innings after being promoted to Erie -- he posted double-digit strikeouts in seven of his final nine regular-season starts -- and ultimately finished third in the Minors in strikeouts (179) and strikeouts-per-nine (13.13).
Skubal attacks hitters with a 93-95 mph fastball that can touch 97 with late life. He complements his impressive heater with a trio of above-average-or-better secondary pitches, including a plus slider that he uses to back-foot right-handed hitters. Skubal's curveball is less dynamic and at times bleeds together with his slider, though he still demonstrates solid overall feel for the pitch, and his changeup will be another weapon once fully developed. He was more successful against right-handed hitters (.180/.259/.304) than lefties (.233/.277/.310) in his first full season, and recorded the Minors' highest swinging-strike rate (18.1 percent) among pitchers who threw at least 120 frames.
An under-the-radar prospect heading into this first full season, Skubal has now established himself as one of the top southpaws in the Minors and gives the Tigers a left-handed complement to their rising crop of impressive right-handed starters. His changeup and curveball require further refinement, as does his command, but Skubal has the stuff and natural strikeout tendencies needed to become a No. 3 starter.
2019 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 55
Tommy John surgery wiped out much of Skubal's 2016 and his entire 2017 season at Seattle University, but the D-backs still took a shot on him in that June's Draft, selecting him in the 29th round. He chose not to sign and returned to Seattle, where he had an uneven performance, especially with his control. The Tigers saw untapped potential in Skubal for that very same reason, and they went above slot to sign him for $350,000 after taking him in the ninth round. He's quickly proved to be one of the Draft's biggest steals with a dominant first full season that saw him rack up a ton of strikeouts in Florida State League before advancing to Double-A in early July and recording double-digit strikeouts in his first three starts.
Skubal pounds the zone with a 92-95 mph fastball that reaches 97 and features late life when he locates up in the zone. His above-average curveball in the low-to-mid-80s is his go-to secondary offering and nets him a ton of whiffs, and he also shows good feel for commanding and misses bats with short, tight slider. Skubal's changeup is a clear fourth pitch for him, though it stands to improve considerably as he learns to better control his arm speed.
Staying healthy in the pro ranks hasn't been an issue for Skubal, and he's impressed the organization with his confidence and composure on the mound. He's quickly established himself as one of the top pitchers in the organization, giving the organization a left-handed complement to their rising crop of impressive right-handed starters.