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Tyler Skaggs

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Tyler Skaggs
Tyler Skaggs (14613198219) (Cropped).jpg
Skaggs pitching for the Angels in 2014
Pitcher
Born: (1991-07-13)July 13, 1991
Woodland Hills, California, US
Died: July 1, 2019(2019-07-01) (aged 27)
Southlake, Texas, US
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
August 22, 2012, for the Arizona Diamondbacks
Last MLB appearance
June 29, 2019, for the Los Angeles Angels
MLB statistics
Win–loss record28–38
Earned run average4.41
Strikeouts476
Teams

Tyler Wayne Skaggs (July 13, 1991 – July 1, 2019) was an American left-handed professional baseball starting pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

A graduate of Santa Monica High School, Skaggs was selected by the Angels in the first round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. The Angels traded him to the Diamondbacks in 2010, and he made his major league debut in 2012 against the Miami Marlins. Skaggs was traded back to the Angels in December 2013, where he spent the rest of his career. He missed the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery, also missing parts of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons due to injury. Through June of 2019, Skaggs posted a career earned run average (ERA) of 4.41, recorded 476 strikeouts, and had a win–loss record of 28–38.

On July 1, 2019, Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, where the Angels were visiting for a series against the Texas Rangers. An autopsy concluded that Skaggs had died of asphyxia after aspirating on his own vomit while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol, and his death was ruled an accident. In October, former Angels employee Eric Kay admitted to providing opiates to Skaggs and was indicted on charges relating to his death. The Angels wore a No. 45 patch on their jerseys for the remainder of the 2019 season to honor Skaggs' memory, while his wife and mother set up the Tyler Skaggs Foundation in his name.

Early life[edit]

Skaggs was born in Woodland Hills, California on July 13, 1991.[1] He played baseball at Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California, where his mother was the head softball coach until 2015.[2] Skaggs' father Darrell played high school baseball as a shortstop, while his stepfather, Dan Ramos, played in college.[3] Growing up, Skaggs would attend his mother's softball practices and provide assistance to some of the players.[4]

Skaggs' nicknames on his high school baseball team were "Tall and Skinny" and "Pole."[5] During his junior season in 2008, Skaggs had a 1.11 earned run average (ERA), with 89 strikeouts, 44 hits allowed, and 22 walks in ​63 13 innings pitched. He was named the player of the year in the Ocean League.[6] In his senior season, a number of professional baseball scouts appeared at his games, including Tommy Lasorda.[5] Santa Monica athletic director Norm Lacy called Skaggs the school's best baseball player since Tim Leary.[7]

Career[edit]

Los Angeles Angels (minor league system)[edit]

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Skaggs in the first round, 40th overall, of the 2009 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. Skaggs was a supplemental pick selected in the same round as other Angels draft picks Randal Grichuk, Mike Trout, Garrett Richards, and Tyler Kehrer.[8] The pitcher made his professional debut on August 22, 2009, playing for the Rookie-level Arizona Angels of the Arizona League. Skaggs pitched one inning against the Arizona League Athletics.[9] He finished the 2009 season with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings with the AZL Angels and with the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League.[10]

The next season, the Angels assigned Skaggs to the Cedar Rapids Kernels of the Class A Midwest League, where he boasted an 8–4 win–loss record in 19 appearances (14 starts) and recorded a 3.61 ERA.[11]

Arizona Diamondbacks (2012–2013)[edit]

Skaggs with the Diamondbacks in 2013

On July 25, 2010, the Angels traded Skaggs, Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodríguez, and Patrick Corbin to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Dan Haren.[12] Although the trade was made in July, it could not become official until August 7, one year after Skaggs had signed his contract with the Angels.[13] Once the trade was finalized, he was assigned to the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks of the Midwest League, where he went 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts and 16 innings.[14] Between the Kernels and the Silver Hawks, Skaggs' 2010 record was 9–5, and he posted a 3.29 ERA and 102 strikeouts.[10] He was also named to that season's Midwest League All-Star team.[15]

Skaggs began the 2011 season with the Visalia Rawhide of the Class A-Advanced California League, where he posted a 5–5 record, 3.22 ERA, and 125 strikeouts in 17 starts and ​100 23 innings.[16] In July, he was promoted to the Mobile BayBears of the Class AA Southern League, with whom he went 4–1 in 10 starts.[17][18] His combined record with Visalia and Mobile was 9–6, and he posted a 2.96 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 27 starts.[10] Skaggs, along with Paul Goldschmidt, was selected to represent the Diamondbacks at the 2011 All-Star Futures Game,[19] and the Diamondbacks named him their minor league pitcher of the year.[10]

He stuck with the BayBears at the start of the 2012 season, going 5–4 in 13 starts and averaging more than one strikeout per inning.[17] In late June, he received a promotion to the Reno Aces of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League, where he finished 5–5 with a 2.91 ERA and 45 strikeouts.[20] Skaggs was one of five players to appear in both the 2011 and 2012 MLB All-Star Futures games, with the others being Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Wil Myers, and Jurickson Profar.[10]

Skaggs made his major league debut on August 22, 2012, giving up two runs in ​6 13 innings in a 3–2 win against the Miami Marlins.[21] He would finish the season with a 1–3 major league record and a 5.83 ERA in six starts.[10] Baseball America named Skaggs the 10th overall MLB prospect in 2013, the highest-ranked prospect in the Diamondbacks organization.[22] Despite entering spring training in contention with Corbin and Randall Delgado for the Diamondbacks' fifth starting pitcher slot, Skaggs was ultimately optioned to the Aces on March 18, 2013. In his season debut on April 7, he pitched six shutout innings in the club's 14–1 victory over the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.[23] Skaggs spent most of the 2013 season with the Aces, but made one appearance with the Rawhide, pitching eight stikeouts.[16] Over 28 starts with the Aces across 2012 and 2013, he compiled a 10–12 record.[24] Skaggs also made seven major league starts with the Diamondbacks, ending the season with a 2–3 record and a 5.12 ERA.[10]

Return to the Angels (2014, 2016–2019)[edit]

Skaggs pitching for the Salt Lake Bees in 2016

On December 10, 2013, Skaggs was part of a three-team trade, where he and Hector Santiago went to the Angels, Adam Eaton joined the Chicago White Sox, and the Diamondbacks received Mark Trumbo and two players to be named later.[25] Skaggs had a rocky start to the 2014 season, pitching to a 5–5 record and 4.30 ERA in 18 games.[26]

On July 31, 2014, Skaggs left a potential no-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in the fifth inning with left forearm tightness, and he was replaced by Mike Morin.[27] The next day, Skaggs was placed on the 15-day disabled list,[28] and on August 10, it was announced that he would undergo Tommy John surgery.[26] He received the surgery on August 13, and elected to delay his return until the beginning of the 2016 season to allow for a full recovery, citing Matt Harvey's similar experience.[29] Skaggs returned to the mound on July 26, 2016, pitching seven shutout innings in a 13–0 win over the Kansas City Royals.[30] He entered the 2016 season with the Triple-A Salt Lake Bees, posting a 3–2 record and a 1.67 ERA in seven starts before being promoted to the Angels, where he posted a 3–4 record with a 4.17 ERA.[31][10]

Injuries continued to plague Skaggs' career with the Angels. He missed 14 weeks of the 2017 season with a strained right oblique,[32] ultimately posting a 2–6 record with a 4.55 ERA.[10] Skaggs also missed two months of the 2018 season with an adductor muscle strain.[33] Despite this, the 2018 season proved his career high in wins (eight), starts (24), innings pitched (​125 13) and strikeouts (129), and his 0.84 ERA in June was the lowest on the team (minimum 30 innings).[10] He posted an 8–10 record for the season, with an overall ERA of 4.02.[34]

Shortly into the 2019 season, Skaggs sprained his left ankle in a game against the Chicago Cubs.[35] After returning from the injury on April 26, 2019,[36] he quickly bounced back, going 7–7 with a 4.29 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Through the end of June, Skaggs was the Angels team leader in wins and strikeouts for the 2019 season.[37] For his major league career, he had a 28–38 win-loss record, a 4.41 ERA, and 476 strikeouts in ​520 23 innings pitched.[38]

Pitching style[edit]

A 2009 MLB scouting report described Skaggs as a "young Barry Zito type," a "decent lefty" with "two above-average pitches." His 92 mph (148 km/h) fastball and 70 to 73 mph (113 to 117 km/h) curveball were particularly praised, while the report expressed some weakness on his pitch delivery.[39] A 2012 preseason report from Baseball America praised Skaggs' curveball and 88 to 93 mph (142 to 150 km/h) fastball, while declaring his changeup "at least an average pitch" that sits between 78 and 82 mph (126 and 132 km/h).[40] That same year, Mike Newman of FanGraphs proclaimed Skaggs' 72 to 76 miles per hour (116–122 km/h) curveball the best in Minor League Baseball.[41] By 2014, his main pitches included a 94 mph (151 km/h) four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup, occasionally utilizing a sinker as a self-proclaimed "secret weapon."[42][43]

Skaggs credited his recovery time after Tommy John surgery with improving his pitching technique. He told the Deseret News that the injury and recovery process helped him better understand his body, and that he returned with more comfort and skill.[44] He continued to fall back primarily on his fastball and curve after returning to the mound, but began reintegrating his changeup back into his pitching rotation during the 2018 season.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Skaggs married Carli Miles after the conclusion of the 2018 Major League Baseball season and remained a resident of Santa Monica during his major league career.[46][1] He was of Mexican descent on his mother's side, and had planned to represent Mexico in the next World Baseball Classic.[47][48]

Death[edit]

On July 1, 2019, Skaggs was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas. He was pronounced dead at around 2:18 p.m. when authorities arrived at the scene.[49][50] The Angels were in the Dallas–Fort Worth area to play a four-game series against the Texas Rangers, in which Skaggs was scheduled to start on July 4.[51] Upon news of Skaggs' death, the Angels and Rangers agreed to postpone the first game of the series, which had been scheduled for later that day.[52] The statement issued by the Southlake Police Department read that neither suicide nor foul play were suspected.[53]

The next day, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner began their autopsy, estimating that it would determine a cause of death by October 2, 2019.[54] On August 30, the Medical Examiner announced that the autopsy found a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in Skaggs' system and that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.12.[55][56] The examination concluded that Skaggs died of asphyxia after aspirating on his own vomit, and his death was ruled an accident.[57]

Skaggs' family hired Texas attorney Rusty Hardin to investigate the pitcher's death.[58] Eric Kay, the Angels' director of communications, said that he provided oxycodone to Skaggs for years, and gave the Drug Enforcement Administration the names of five other players within the organization that he believed were using opiates.[59] Kay was indicted on October 15, 2020, on charges related to Skaggs' death.[60] Kay's trial was rescheduled for April 2021 in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in North America.[61]

Memorials[edit]

News of Skaggs' death triggered an outpouring of grief in Major League Baseball. On July 2, Patrick Corbin of the Washington Nationals, who was drafted in the same round as Skaggs and traded with him to Arizona, switched his jersey to Skaggs' number 45 for a game against the Miami Marlins.[62] Mike Trout and Tommy La Stella, the Angels' two All-Star representatives, also wore No. 45 to honor Skaggs at the 2019 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.[63]

On July 6, 2019, Andrew Heaney became the first pitcher to start after the passing of his fellow left-hander. His first pitch against George Springer of the Houston Astros was Skaggs' signature overhand slow curveball, and it went unchallenged with no swing.[64] On July 12, at their first home game after Skaggs' death, every player on the Angels wore his No. 45 jersey. His mother, Debbie Hetman, threw the ceremonial first pitch, which was caught by Heaney.[65][66] Angels pitchers Taylor Cole and Félix Peña combined to throw a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners, winning 13–0. It was the first combined no-hitter in California since July 13, 1991, the day of Skaggs' birth. After the game, the players removed their memorial jerseys and laid them on the mound to honor his memory.[65]

On Players Weekend in 2019, all major league players wore a No. 45 patch on their jerseys. Additionally, Ryan Braun, Jesse Chavez, Patrick Corbin, Jack Flaherty, Max Fried, Lucas Giolito, Scott Heineman, Mike Moustakas, and Christian Yelich wore nicknames that honored Skaggs.[67] All members of the Angels wore a No. 45 patch for the rest of the 2019 season.[68]

After his death, Skaggs' wife and mother started the Tyler Skaggs Foundation, meant to support childhood athletic programs.[69][70] The MLB Players Trust donated $45,000 to the foundation on July 22, 2019.[71]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Perdomo, Diego (June 2, 2015). "Softball seeks CIF victory in Skaggs' last year as coach". The Samohi. Archived from the original on August 12, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  3. ^ Pinchevsky, Tal (August 13, 2018). "This MLB Pitcher Gets It From His Mama". OZY. Archived from the original on October 30, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
  4. ^ Bohannan, Larry (July 1, 2019). "Tyler Skaggs' death stuns desert school official who watched player grow up". Palm Springs Desert Sun. Archived from the original on March 16, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2021.
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  48. ^ @Enrique_Rojas1 (July 2, 2019). "Informó @JoseMota05 que fallecido lanzador Tyler Skaggs había firmado una carta de intención para jugar con #Mexico en próximo Clásico Mundial de Béisbol. Debbie, la madre Skaggs, es mexicana" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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External links[edit]