Tyler Skaggs arrived only recently at Triple-A Reno, but if he keeps pitching like he did Friday night, the stay won't be a long one.
The D-backs' No. 3 prospect celebrated his 21st birthday by pitching seven shutout innings, allowing three hits while striking out six as the Aces beat the Bees, 7-2.
After Arizona's top prospect, Trevor Bauer, made his Major League debut on June 28, it doesn't require much imagination to picture Skaggs (2-0) joining him soon. In the meantime, beginning to master the PCL suits him just fine.
"[That kind of talk] makes me feel good, but I still have a lot to learn before I get up there," Skaggs said. "I think I have a lot more things to learn at Triple-A. It's exciting."
MLB.com's No. 16 overall prospect began the year with Double-A Mobile, where he went 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 69 2/3 innings.
Almost simultaneously, Bauer made the jump from Triple-A to the big leagues and Skaggs replaced him in Reno. His first start for the Aces on July 1 was eye-opening as he surrendered five runs on 12 hits, including two homers, over seven innings.
Still, he earned his first victory at his new level and has built off it. He tossed three shutout innings against Colorado Springs on July 6 as a tuneup for his appearance in the All-Star Futures Game.
"I'd say I'm kind of getting the hang of it," Skaggs said after his third PCL start. "The team's been unbelievable behind me, playing great defense. It's just been fun. [A shutout bid] doesn't happy too much in this league, so you just have to cherish it."
In all, the 2009 first-round pick has a 2.65 ERA, 12 strikeouts and three walks over 17 innings in his early exposure to Triple-A.
With the D-backs' rotation solidified, Skaggs will continue to work in the PCL. He said he prefers it that way as he looks to improve across the board before he feels he's ready to take on Major League hitters.
"Everybody looks forward to it, wants to get to the big leagues, but I'm excited to wait my turn and let [the D-backs] decide," he said. "I want to go out every fifth day, pitching my butt off. I still want to improve on fastball command, throw that curveball for strikes, changeups for strikes."
The left-hander said he wouldn't mind sticking around Reno and winning a PCL championship. That would make it titles in back-to-back years after winning a Southern League crown with the BayBears last September.
"I expect to stay focused. I'm really just trying to win ballgames here, win another championship, make it two in two years. We have the team to do it," Skaggs said.
D-backs No. 15 prospect Adam Eaton and Mike Jacobs both fell a triple shy of the cycle Friday. A.J. Pollock and Ryan Wheeler, Arizona's No. 6 and 17 prospect, respectively, also homered.