There was some good pitching on display during the Angels-Diamondbacks Spring Training game on Tuesday afternoon. Dan Haren and Tyler Skaggs were the highlights of the match. And rightfully so, since Skaggs was the shiny prospect piece the D-Backs received when they traded Haren to the Angels on July 25, 2010. Let’s begin with Haren since Skaggs is just 20-years-old and will likely spend most of 2012 in the minors. And I suppose this is an Angels blog.
Is Haren underrated? Or should the question be how criminally underrated is Haren? He finished fifth for the NL Cy Young in 2009, seventh for the AL Cy Young last year and is a three time All Star. But since 2005, only Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia and Johan Santana have a higher total bWAR (Baseball-Reference wins above replacement). During that same time, Sabathia is the only pitcher to throw more innings (by seven) and record more strikeouts than Haren. I think he might be a bit overlooked.
If Tuesday’s game was any indication (I know, Spring Training stats are meaningless), Haren is poised for another big season. Haren pitched the first three innings and allowed one hit while striking out seven (7!). Haren got Justin Upton (swinging) and Miguel Montero (looking) to strand Willie Bloomquist on third to end the first inning. Chris Young (swinging) and Paul Goldschmidt (looking) went down in the second. Then Haren struck out the side to end his day: Ryan Roberts (swinging), Trevor Cahill (swinging) and Bloomquist (looking).
That spring outing is nearly impossible to top. Unless, of course, you have a hot girlfriend and really enjoy picnics.
The Angels drafted Skaggs with the 40th pick in the 2009 Draft (supplemental first round) out of Santa Monica High School. He was traded along with Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez and Pat Corbin for Haren in 2010 which looks like a win-win deal for both teams. Skaggs reached Double-A in 2011, as a 19-year-old, and posted a 2.50 ERA over 10 starts. He enters 2012 as a universal top 25 prospect in baseball. Baseball America listed him the highest at 13, Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus had him at 21 and Keith Law at ESPN ranked him 25. The left-hander will probably start the season at Triple-A as a 20-year-old but could find himself at the back of the D-Backs rotation by the end of the year along with fellow super-prospect Trevor Bauer.
Skaggs replaced Cahill to pitch the fourth and fifth innings on Tuesday. He gave up a hit and struck out one without issuing a walk. His fastball was sitting 92-93 and his 12-6 curve looked every bit as good as advertised. Hank Conger got to see the curve and then had no chance at the fastball during a three pitch punch out.
The future rotation for the Snakes is bright. Bauer, Skaggs and Archie Bradley are all top 25 prospects. Bauer and Skaggs will probably be ready this year. *wipes drool off keyboard*
I hope these kids make it to the Majors in a healthy and prompt fashion. It would be fun to compare them to the great rotations in the game. Say, perhaps, the 2012 Angels staff.