By Evan Brunell
Last season, the Diamondbacks were the brunt of much puzzlement after shipping starting pitcher Dan Haren to the Angels for what looked to be a pittance at the time.
"The industry's reaction to the Dan Haren trade in the hours and weeks surrounding it, there might be a little bit different opinion of it today," senior vice president of scouting and player development Jerry DiPoto told MLB Trade Rumors recently.
A year later, that trade still doesn't quite hold up, but Arizona's return is looking much better thanks to the progression of Tyler Skaggs, a 20-year-old who has advanced to Double-A this season and may be in the hunt for a rotation spot next year, as the Arizona Republic writes.
"He's had a crazy good year," Dipoto told the Republic. Skaggs began the year in high-Class A, posting a 3.22 ERA in 17 starts despite never having pitched at the level before at age 19. With a combination of strikeout stuff and good control, Skaggs kept the good times rolling in Double-A, as his 2.51 ERA over eight starts shows. It wasn't a rosy start to Double-A, though, as the left-hander suffered through a humbling debut.
"I said to him, kind of tongue-in-cheek but with all seriousness, 'It's going to take you about seven minutes to figure it out,' " Dipoto said.
Now, Skaggs is coming off a two-hit shutout on Tuesday and is rocketing up prospect charts as a starting pitcher to keep an eye out for, and adding a young starting pitcher to a growing rotation corps in Arizona that could be the next great young rotation. Daniel Hudson is already in the majors, and Skaggs should pair with 2011 first-round draft pick Trevor Bauer (along with fellow first-rounder Archie Bradley) to create a core moving forward behind ace (and fellow youngster) Ian Kennedy."[Skaggs is] the same package," Dipoto said, "we believe we traded for last year: fastball mostly 89-93 [mph] with excellent downhill plane, curveball a swing-and-miss type pitch and the change-up has come along quite a bit."
The Republic says that Skaggs will likely be invited to major-league camp and compete for a rotation spot in spring training. While he could very well end up with one, the odds are on Skaggs pitching in Triple-A at least through June, both to continue bringing him along slowly and introduce him to advanced competition, plus to push off his free agency and arbitration clock by one additional season. Whenever Skaggs arrives, it will be a shot in the arm for an Arizona team increasingly looking like one to fear in the coming years.
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