Friday, June 16, 2017

KINGMAN – Tarik Skubal was sitting at lunch with his girlfriend and her family when he heard the news – the Kingman Academy graduate was headed to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I got a text from a kid I played with last year in Seattle and then I got a call from the area scout from up there saying ‘Congratulations, we just selected you. We’ll work everything out and we’ll be in touch shortly,’” Skubal said.

The D-backs selected the Seattle U junior left-hander with the 862nd pick of the 29th round.

“It’s exciting, it’s awesome,” Skubal said. “It’s a dream I’ve been working for since I was really little.”

That dream took a minor detour in 2017 after Skubal had to sit out after an offseason Tommy John surgery. Skubal said his rehab is going well and he feels “way better.”

“When you take a year off, you learn a lot. Not only about yourself, but a little more about the game of baseball because you can’t play,” Skubal said. “You’re just watching other pitchers and batters. It was huge for me to develop, not only for my physical body and to get stronger, but the mental aspect of the game, which is a big part of baseball. I wish I could have learned a different way and I didn’t have to get surgery, but I guess that’s what it took. I feel like I’m probably twice the pitcher I was before.”

With that in mind, Skubal hasn’t decided whether he’ll pursue his big-league dreams or return to school and finish his collegiate career.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot,” he said. “I’m not committed one way or the other. I’m still young and I can go back to school. I still have two more years of eligibility to think about.”

It’s a lot to think about for Skubal, but he said he’s still proud of his accomplishment. That doesn’t mean he’s done yet, especially after going 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 42.2 innings during his freshman campaign.

“I’m always striving to better myself physically, mentally, and hopefully I put up better numbers than that,” Skubal said. “I’m confident in my capabilities. I’m not sure what can happen, but I’m just going to go out there and compete.”

Skubal’s confidence has boomed thanks to a strong support system. He is still in contact with his Kingman Academy coaches as well as his friends and family in the area.

“I feel like I have the city behind me,” Skubal said. “It’s awesome to have the support if you need it because sometimes you go through these little highs and lows and you need it in the lows more than anyone will ever know.”

Skubal was in Kingman Thursday and plans to remain in town until he makes his next move.

“I have some time to think about it,” Skubal said. “I can talk to my family about it. I’ve already spoke to them a little about it. I can talk to my advisor about it. I’m going to make a decision here shortly, I would assume once I find out more details of what is going on.”