SAMOHI — This has been a banner week for Viking baseball.
Santa Monica High School senior Tyler Skaggs was taken by the Los Angeles Angels in the compensation round with the 40th pick in the Major League Draft on Tuesday and former Viking and UCLA Bruin Cody Decker was taken in the 22nd round by the San Diego Padres with the 654 pick on Wednesday.
“They are my favorite team,” Skaggs said of the Angels. “I’m ecstatic.
“This morning I woke up and said that my dream has come true.”
Skaggs, who has also committed to play at Cal State Fullerton, said that he expects to forgo college and enter the pros. The next step for him is to sign an agent and begin negotiating the terms of his contract.
Skaggs said that he’s eager to sign and jokingly added that he doesn’t want to give the Angels too big of a hometown discount.
Once he comes to terms with the Angels, Skaggs is expected to be assigned to rookie ball in Tempe, Arizona.
Bobby DeJardin, the head area scout for the Angels, said that Los Angeles is pleased to get Skaggs with the 40th pick in the draft. Skaggs had been projected as a first round pick and DeJardin said that the Angels were excited to find that he was still available in the compensation round, which occurs between the first and second rounds.
“Tyler is a very projectable young man,” DeJardin said. “He has some of the things that you can look into the future and project on.”
DeJardin said that Skaggs, when signed, will begin his pro career as a starting pitcher. The Arizona Rookie League begins June 20 and runs until Aug. 30.
Aside from being a fan of the Angels, Skaggs said that the proximity of the rookie ball team in Tempe will give his family the opportunity to monitor his progress. The Angels also have their double A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, which is within driving distance of Santa Monica.
His mother, Debbie Skaggs, said that the entire family was elated when they received the call from the Angels informing them of the pick.
“We’ve been Angel fans forever,” Debbie Skaggs said. “We were very excited.”
She said that the entire draft process has been “awesome,” adding that the fact that he was chosen by the Angels was the icing on the cake.
Being a typical mother, Debbie Skaggs, who is also the head softball coach at Samohi, said that Tyler is the kind of young man who will “work his butt off to get to that next level.”
She said that the support group surrounding the star hurler helped pave the way for this momentous event.
She singled out Dan Ramos, Tyler Skaggs’ step father, for his mentoring of the young pitcher. The long hours of working in the backyard on Tyler’s mechanics have helped immensely in developing his skills, she added.
Rob Duron, who was Tyler’s coach for the past two seasons at Samohi, thinks that the Angels got a steal. An ankle injury midway through the season kept Tyler Skaggs out of action, potentially hurting his draft stock his former coach said.
“I told everybody who called the same thing,” Duron said. “Somebody is going to get a good one.”
DeJardin disagrees that the injury hurt his draft placement. He said he has been high on him since seeing him during his junior season.
“We took our time building up a thing over the year to make this evaluation,” he said. “The sprain didn’t concern us one bit.
“We have no concerns.”
Decker counts his blessings
The path to the big leagues was somewhat different for UCLA’s Decker.
Following a standout career at Samohi he went undrafted. Undaunted by what some might have called a snub, Decker decided to attend nearby UCLA where his prospects went up and down.
Following a successful sophomore season Decker went into his junior year with high expectations. Unfortunately, his performance suffered and he again went undrafted following his junior season, the first time he was eligible to re-enter the draft after submitting following his senior year in high school.
He returned to school this year undeterred and went about the business of leading the Pac-10 with 21 home runs.
That performance helped attract the interest of pro scouts resulting in his selection in the 22nd round.
“I’m feeling like I just had a house lifted off my shoulders,” Decker said of his selection. “This has been the longest day of my life.
“It was a long, long morning.”
He said that he didn’t want to be glued to a computer screen monitoring the draft’s progress on the Internet. Instead he did what he does best: worked on his game.
Decker said that he took his phone along with him just in case a team wanted to contact him informing him of their draft intentions. He even took his cell along with him to a weight room on the UCLA campus where phones are not permitted. A gym attendant reminded him of the policy and Decker flatly told him, “You’re going to have to pry it out of my cold, dying hands.”
That call eventually came from the San Diego Padres, a development Decker is pleased with.
“I’m happy, very happy,” Decker said of his selection by a SoCal team. “If I make it up to the big leagues my family will easily see those games.”
Decker said that team officials have told him that they would like to assign him to A level ball. He said he still hasn’t been given the specifics.
“My whole goal this year was to prove everybody wrong,” Decker said of his strong senior season. “That was my main focus. I just wanted to prove them completely wrong.
“That’s what I’ve been about for the past several years.”