Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Skaggs Happy To Be With Angels Again


Tyler Skaggs was thrilled to be drafted by the Angels in 2009, when he was the 17-year-old star pitcher at Santa Monica High.

Quite simply, he had been an Angels fan.

But in professional baseball there are often twists and turns in a career.

The Angels traded Skaggs a year later to the Arizona DiamondBacks. Last week the Angels acquired Skaggs again.

In reality, at age 22, the 6-foot-5 lefthander has shown more promise than results.

He's been in demand. The DiamondBacks wanted him originally along with fellow pitching prospect Patrick Corbin when they sent established starter Dan Haren to the Angels. Now the Angels wanted him in order to complete a trade in which they've given up Mark Trumbo, who had 34 home runs and 100 RBI last season.

What's up?

Well, last season Skaggs lost some velocity on his fastball. He gave up several home runs. After pitching briefly for Arizona he was sent to a low classification minor league team in Visalia.

"There was concern that his velocity had dropped," said DiamondBacks General Manager Kevin Towers.

However, the Angels believe they can straighten out Skaggs' problem. Angels GM Jerry DiPoto says a mechanical adjustment can solve what went wrong, and a healthy 22-year-old should be able to bounce back.

"This is a new beginning," said Skaggs. "I grew up as a fan of the team. I had pictures of those players on the wall in our house."

Skaggs' mother is Debbie Skaggs, the long-time softball coach at Santa Monica High.

I recall a day when Tyler struck out 14 Culver City batters as Debbie coached her team's softball game on an adjoining diamond.

A friend sent messages to Debbie about Tyler's progress throughout his game. When hers finished first she rushed to the baseball diamond to see his final few innings.

Tyler was actually in line to receive a much larger amount of money to sign a professional contract and bypass college. Projected among the top 10 prospects nationally he suffered a sprained ankle a month before the 2009 draft.

Unable to pitch when scouts make their final decisions he slipped to No. 40. But that slot is still in the $1 million range.

In the latest trade the Angels also acquired Hector Santiago, a lefthander who pitched for the Chicago White Sox last season. He's experienced and likely to have a spot ahead of Skaggs.

But if the Santa Monica youngster has to battle his way back to the major leagues it won't be the first time.

Dodgers' broadcaster Rick Monday, a former Santa Monica High baseball star before he became a major leaguer, told me last season he hadn't yet met Skaggs but intended to do so.

After all, those Vikings have to stick together.


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