Skubal’s physical frame and left-handed velocity were attracting attention as a college underclassman, but he was hurt his junior year at the University of Seattle. He threw bullpens leading up to the draft in 2017, but ultimately opted to head back to school after sliding to the Diamondbacks in the 29th round. He showed the same stuff as a redshirt junior but struggled with control, lasting until the Tigers took him with their ninth-round pick. Skubal made a few appearances last summer after signing with Detroit, but the bulk of his pro experience has come in this year in the Florida State League. He has put himself on the prospect radar with a strong performance, named to the league all-star team after showing gains in control and pitchability that have opened the door for a potential long-term rotation role.
A muscular, athletic 6-foot-3, Skubal looks the part of a power arm and has the fastball to match. His semi-windup is deceptive but a bit robotic, with a funky overall operation reminiscent of Mariners lefty James Paxton. He throws up a high, closed front side with a plunged arm-circle, offsetting timing but struggling to stay in-sync. This causes inconsistent command and overall placement within the zone, though he has the stuff to be effective without pinpoint location—especially in A-Ball.
Skubal runs his fastball to 97-98 mph early in starts, settling in the 93-to-94 mph range with lively finish through the zone. His best off-speed is a low-80s curveball, flashing sharp bite and solid two-plane finish at best. It gets slurvy at times, blending into a 84-to-86 mph slider that he’ll flash as a show-me second look. His 81-to-84 mph changeup is very inconsistent but flashes quality separation and dive action at best. Skubal’s 80-to-84 mph change is definitely a work in progress, but the glimpses of effective movement hint it could finish a solid third pitch with more development.
Skubal checks the boxes of a potential late-bloomer, and as a southpaw with premium velocity, the bar is a little lower for how sharp his secondary and command need to be in order to stick as a starter. He’s a classic risk/reward wildcard, possessing the frame and tools of a power mid-rotation lefty if his command and off-speed can get more consistent. Even if they don’t, this type of stuff and deception can impact from the bullpen if he needs a fallback. Though he’s far from a sure thing given the lack of pro track record and injury history, Skubal’s breakout season has placed him among the more interesting arms in a talent-rich Florida Sate League crop this year.