9) Tyler Skaggs, 07/13/91 - LHSP, Rookie Ball, Cedar Rapids
Ranking in a Nutshell: A year ago, Baseball America's Jim Callis labeled 175 lbs Tyler Skaggs the most projectable high school arm of the 2009 draft. Once on the mound in August (and $1 million richer), the lefty showed a promising 3-4 pitch mix featuring an 88-91 mph fastball, a plus slider, a slow curve, and a change-up in the making. He didn't throw many innings in his debut, but the results were nonetheless impressive. Recent reports have Skaggs at 6'4", 180 lbs, so the likelihood of him becoming more physical as he continues to fill out his frame remains key to his projected value.
Track Record: He signed late, so pitched only ten and two thirds innings across Arizona and Orem. He fanned 13 and induced 16 ground balls in that time (57.1%of balls in play), while walking only 2. He very nearly completed his debut without yielding a run, but gave up 4 (2 earned) in his final appearance of 2009. He'll head to Cedar Rapids at some point next year, though given how little he was stretched out last summer he will likely be on the Chatwood/Chaffee plan and begin the season in extended spring training.
Win-the-Lottery-Ceiling: A front of the rotation type who mixes four average to above average pitches with excellent command. There have been some Barry Zito comps due to his build and slow curveball but current A's southpaw Brett Anderson may be the better fit due to height and pitch mix. The great thing about Skaggs is that he's got the stuff and projection to have a very good chance of winding up as a mid-rotation starter, even if his ceiling lowers in coming seasons.
Scouting Report: (beneath the jump)
Many thanks to Baseball Beginnings, who published this scouting video and scouting report just before the draft. Baseball Intellect also published this scouting report, which highlights some of the front side and landing mechanics issues that Skaggs is no doubt presently working on. I like that his delivery is uncomplicated and that he stays consistently at his three quarters arm slot with both his fastball and his breaking ball. While I wouldn't call his motion fluid exactly, it does appear smooth and repeatable.
Skaggs' fastball has better odds of adding a tick or two than any other in the system, except for maybe Pat Corbin, a similarly skinny lefty. Scouts had mixed feelings about the mid-to-high 60's curveball that he used in high school, but it did the job against prep hitters and he will still drop it in occasionally as a pro. At some point over the past year, he started favoring a harder mid-70's slider that has drawn rave reviews (Baseball America calls it a "knockout offering"). He's still learning to mix in his change-up, but there isn't enough data yet to know if it rates as a plus pitch. Landing Skaggs in the supplemental round last year was one of several steals the Halos pulled off in the 2009 draft.