Skaggs with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013
|Born: July 13, 1991|
Woodland Hills, California
|Died: July 1, 2019 (aged 27)|
|August 22, 2012, for the Arizona Diamondbacks|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 29, 2019, for the Los Angeles Angels|
|Earned run average||4.41|
Tyler Wayne Skaggs (July 13, 1991 – July 1, 2019) was an American professional baseball player who was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Angels.
The Angels selected Skaggs in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft. After the Angels traded him to the Diamondbacks during the 2010 season, Skaggs made his MLB debut in 2012. The Diamondbacks traded him back to the Angels during the 2013–2014 off-season, and he pitched for the team until his death in 2019. Skaggs posted a career earned run average (ERA) of 4.41 and recorded 476 strikeouts and a win–loss record of 28 wins and 38 losses.
On July 1, 2019, Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas, where the Angels were visiting to play the Texas Rangers. An autopsy concluded that Skaggs had aspirated on his own vomit and died of asphyxia while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol; his death was ruled an accident.
Skaggs attended Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, California. In 2008, his junior year, he had a 1.11 earned run average (ERA) with 89 strikeouts, 44 hits allowed, and 22 walks in 63 1⁄3 innings pitched. He was named the player of the year in the Ocean League.
Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Skaggs with the 40th pick as a supplemental selection in the first round of the 2009 Major League Baseball draft. He made his professional debut that season in Minor League Baseball at the Rookie-level with the Arizona Angels of the Arizona League and the Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League. He had a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings pitched.
On July 25, 2010, the Angels traded Skaggs, Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodríguez, and Patrick Corbin to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Dan Haren. The Diamondbacks assigned him to the Class-A South Bend Silver Hawks of the Midwest League. He finished the 2010 season with a 9–5 win-loss record, a 3.29 ERA, and 102 strikeouts between Cedar Rapids and South Bend.
In 2011, Skaggs started the season with the Visalia Rawhide of the Class A-Advanced California League, receiving a promotion to the Mobile Bay Bears of the Class AA Southern League in July. He, along with Paul Goldschmidt, represented the Diamondbacks at the 2011 All-Star Futures Game. Skaggs finished the year with a 9–6 record, a 2.96 ERA, and 198 strikeouts in 27 games started for Visalia and Mobile. The Diamondbacks named him their minor league pitcher of the year. Skaggs began the 2012 season with Mobile, receiving a promotion to the Reno Aces of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League in late June. He appeared in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game.
Skaggs made his MLB debut on August 22,2012 and gave up two runs through 6 1⁄3 innings of work and was awarded the win. In six starts with the Diamondbacks that year, he had a 1–3 record and a 5.83 ERA. He pitched to a 2–3 record and a 5.12 ERA in seven major league starts in 2013.
Second stint with the Angels
The Diamondbacks traded Skaggs back to the Angels on December 10, 2013, in a three-team trade also involving the Chicago White Sox. The Angels also received Hector Santiago, while the White Sox received Adam Eaton and the Diamondbacks received Mark Trumbo and two players to be named later. He pitched to a 5–5 record and 4.30 ERA in 18 games started in 2014, before his season ended in August due to an injury. He underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery), During his recovery, he decided that he would not pitch for the entire 2015 season.
After more than a year recovering from Tommy John surgery, Skaggs returned to the Angels in 2016, and started 10 games. For the 2017 season, he began in the Angels rotation. Throughout the season, he spent 98 days on the disabled list, limiting him to just 16 starts.
In 2018, Skaggs had a 2.64 ERA in 16 starts before was placed on the disabled list in June, July, and August with adductor muscle strains. Overall on the season, he started 24 games, finishing 8–10 with a 4.02 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 125 1⁄3 innings. He began the 2019 season in the rotation, and was placed on the disabled list with a left ankle sprain after three starts. He was activated on April 26. In his 15 starts in 2019, he posted a record of seven wins and seven losses, with a 4.29 ERA and 78 strikeouts. At the time of his death, Skaggs was the team leader in wins and strikeouts for the season. For his career, he had a 28–38 win-loss record, a 4.41 ERA, and 476 strikeouts in 520 2⁄3 innings pitched.
Skaggs threw mainly three pitches, leading with a four-seam fastball at 91 to 94 miles per hour (146–151 km/h). He also threw a curveball 72 to 76 miles per hour (116–122 km/h), and a changeup against right-handed hitters 78 to 81 miles per hour (126–130 km/h). Baseball America and other scouts regarded the curve as his best pitch, while the changeup was less developed.
Skaggs was born in Woodland Hills, California, on July 13, 1991. His mother, Debbie, was the softball coach at Santa Monica High School until 2015. He married Carli Miles after the conclusion of the 2018 Major League Baseball season, and was a resident of his native Santa Monica until his death. He was of Mexican descent on his mother's side, and, at the time of his death, had planned to represent Mexico in the next World Baseball Classic.
Skaggs was found unresponsive in his hotel room on July 1, 2019, in Southlake, Texas, and was pronounced dead at around 2:18 p.m. by authorities upon their arrival at the scene. The Angels were in the area to play a four-game series against the Texas Rangers; he was scheduled to pitch in the series' finale on July 4. The Angels and the Rangers postponed the first game, which had been scheduled for the day of his death. The statement issued by the Southlake Police Department read that neither suicide nor foul play was suspected. The next day, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner began their autopsy, estimating it would determine a cause of death by October 2, 2019.
On August 30, 2019, the Tarrant County (Texas) Medical Examiner announced that the autopsy performed on Skaggs found a mix of fentanyl, oxycodone and alcohol in his system. The opioids are banned by MLB. Skaggs had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, above the 0.08 legal limit for driving. The examination concluded that Skaggs died of asphyxia after choking on his own vomit, and his death was ruled an accident.
Skaggs' death triggered an outpouring of grief in Major League Baseball. On July 2, Patrick Corbin of the Washington Nationals, a fellow 2009 Angels draftee who was traded to Arizona with Skaggs, honored Skaggs by switching his jersey number to 45 for a game against the Miami Marlins. 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.
On July 12, 2019, at their first home game after Skaggs' death, every player on the Angels wore his number 45 jersey. His mother, Debbie Hetman, threw the ceremonial first pitch. 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 Skaggs jerseys and laid them around the mound to honor his memory.
All major league players wore a No. 45 patch on Players Weekend. During the first night of Players Weekend, Ryan Braun, Jesse Chavez, Patrick Corbin, Jack Flaherty, Max Fried, Lucas Giolito, Scott Heineman, Mike Moustakas, and Christian Yelich wore nicknames that honored Skaggs. The Angels wore a No. 45 patch for the rest of the 2019 season in his memory.
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- @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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