Tyler Skulina, P
Age: 22 (9/18/1991)
2013 Teams: Boise Hawks, Northwest League, (SS); Kane County, Midwest League, (A)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 41
How acquired—Drafted in the fourth round in 2013, # 108 overall
Prior to Cubs
Skulina had a stellar career at Walsh Jesuit HIgh School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, posting a 26-0 record. He was named 2009 Ohio High School Gatorade Player of the Year, and was first-team All-Ohio in 2009 and 2010. The A's selected Skulina in the 46th round in 2010 but he decided to head to Virginia. He never threw a pitch for the Cavaliers, transferring to Kent Sate and sitting out 2011. He went 11-3 as a sophomore and tossed 5.2 innings of shutout ball against Oregon in the Super Regional elimination game helping Kent State to their first-ever College World Series. A two-time second-team All-MAC performer, Skulina threw 93.2 innings as a junior in 15 starts with 102 strikeouts and a 3.36 ERA. Scouting reports were mixed on Skulina as the draft approached as the right-hander's numbers had fallen off his junior year, and while both his fastball and curve were above average, the lack of a decent change-up and command issues had many projecting Skulina as a bullpen arm.
After inking his deal, Skulina made his pro debut in the Northwest League for Boise on July 2 throwing 1.1 shutout innings in relief. The fourth-round pick appeared in eight games for the Hawks, not allowing a run in his first 10.1 frames. He earned an August promotion to Kane County but struggled with his command in the MWL. After walking three in 15 innings at Boise, Skulina issued six free passes in 9.2 innings for Kane County. The 22-year-old went 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA in MWL allowing 14 hits and a BAA of .341.
I saw Skulina pitch for Kane County in his first MWL start at Clinton and he struggled with his command in the first inning. He has a smooth motion and throws the ball hard with ease, creating good downward plane. He throws a fastball in the mid-90s and has a sharp breaking ball. He should return to the MWL for his first full season as part of the rotation and could earn a mid-season promotion to the Florida State League.
Ryan Searle, P
Age: 23 (6/22/1989)
2013 Teams: Daytona Cubs, Florida State League, (A+); Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League (rehab)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—Not rated
How acquired—Signed as a free agent on Jan. 28, 2007
Prior to Cubs
Searle signed with the Cubs following his performance with Queensland at the 2007 U18 Financial Wealth National Championships as the Cubs offered the 17-year-old a contract after his final game performance. He attended spring training with the Cubs and then returned to his native country for the Major League Baseball Australian Academy Program.
Searle's Cub career has been a roller coaster ride since the beginning as he's pitched at every level, including five different seasons in the Florida State League. He appeared in eight games in his debut between Mesa and Boise in 2008, and then made 24 starts (7-11 4.42 ERA, 116 IP) in his first full season in the Florida State League for Daytona. He took a step back in 2009 after starting at Daytona and was sent to Peoria in early May and appeared in 22 games (19 starts)—reaching career-highs in innings pitched (124.2) and strikeouts (101). For the third straight season, Searle started in Daytona and after 16 games (1-2 1.59 ERA) was promoted to AA Tennessee. Searle had problems with his command, 43 walks in 84.2 innings, and went 5-3 with a 3.51 ERA in 23 games, including 11 starts. Beginning 2012 in AA, Searle pitched in eight games but was sent back to Daytona and pitched a majority of the time out of the bullpen with a line of 6-3, 4.22 ERA, 59.2 IP, 59 H, 20 BB 49 K. He also got a call to AAA Iowa for two games, including a win in four innings of relief vs. Memphis.
Searle was dominating to start the season earning FSL Pitcher of the Week honors after 8.1 scoreless innings in April and a league leading 0.48 WHIP in the first two weeks for Daytona. He allowed 12 runs in his next two starts and went on the disabled list, not returning to the D-Cubs until Aug. 15. Searle finished the year 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA in 27 IP. The 24-year-old Australian was dominating in the playoffs, recording two saves in both series clinching games. He fired four innings in the division series final and then tossed four no-hit innings, getting the final 12 outs in the FSL championship clinching game. His season didn't end until Jan. 25 for Brisbane in the Australian Baseball League. Searle was able to log 55 innings as he made eight starts, going 3-4 with a 2.78 ERA. He fanned 50 and only walked seven.
Searle re-signed with the Cubs for his seventh season with the organization and hopes to avoid Daytona for the sixth straight year. Primarily a ground ball pitcher, Searle throws in the upper 80s and features a decent sinker. He could be used as the long reliever in Tennessee this summer.