RENO, Nev. — Tyler Skaggs may be in the minor leagues, but he’s doing big things.
The former Santa Monica High School standout hasn’t even turned 21 yet, but his age hasn’t worked against him as he’s progressed through the minor leagues to the AAA level in just three years.
Skaggs, who is considered one of the top 20 prospects in baseball, received the call he’s been waiting for last week informing him that the Arizona Diamondbacks organization was promoting him to its AAA affiliate in Reno, Nev.
“I was hoping to get it done,” he said, “but I was still surprised it happened so fast.”
In one start on the mound at Reno, he¬ís already made a fan in his new pitching coach.
Mike Parrott, a veteran of 16 seasons in a minor league dugout, said that Skaggs’ mental and physical skills are beyond his years. He’s most impressed by his ability to remain cool in the face of adversity.
“For a guy that young to have that kind of composure is impressive,” Parrott said. “He has a lot of confidence, as he should have.”
Parrott said that it takes swagger to succeed at pitcher and Skaggs has that in spades.
“It’s a good cockiness,” Parrott said with a chuckle. “He isn’t arrogant, he just has a lot of confidence in his ability.”
That ability has helped Skaggs amass an impressive list of accolades since being drafted 40th overall in the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft.
He’s been an all-star in both A and AA and will be making his second appearance in the prestigious MLB Futures game, to be played in Kansas City as part of the big league mid-summer classic.
Skaggs believes the secret to his success comes in simple terms.
“I just have to stay level headed,” he said. “I just have to go out there and get outs.”
Simply said, but not easily accomplished, Parrott is confident that Skaggs will reach the big leagues — sooner than later.
Parrott said that Skaggs compares to big leaguer Barry Zito and former Angel Chuck Finely, but believes he’ll make his own niche along the way to potential stardom.
“One day, he’s the kind of guy that they will be comparing other prospects to,” he said.
Although Parrott feels Skaggs has the goods, he still thinks he can teach the young lefty how to command his pitches when facing tougher competition.
He said that Skaggs has good command for his age, but added that it’s something he’ll need to further develop if he’s to reach his goal of suiting up for a Major League game.
Until his big call-up comes, Skaggs is just trying to enjoy life in the minor leagues.
Since being called up to AAA he’s noticed a few things are different. First, the hitters are all patient and big league ready. Also, playing in the Pacific Coast League presents a pitcher with ballparks that play smaller than their dimensions and high elevations that make balls lighter than at sea level.
But, the biggest difference has come in the mode of transportation.
Gone are his days of riding buses between small towns. In AAA, they fly to their games, something that is a welcome change for Skaggs.
“The bus rides were all right,” he said, “but it’s nice to fly everywhere we go.”