LOCALS TAKE AIM AT MAJOR LEAGUE MOUNDS
The greater Kingman community can root for homegrown talent with two local prodigies knocking on the door to the Big Leagues in the days and weeks ahead. Dylan File, 24, and Tarik Skubal, 23, are assigned to taxi squads and both could see their major league baseball debuts as MLB begins a COVID-19, abbreviated 60-game season on Thursday.
Skubal is on the 10-day Injured List but the left-handed starting pitcher is ready to bring a fastball touching 98 miles an hour to the Detroit Tigers when they call him up. Skubal racked up 179 strikeouts in 122.2 innings at two minor league levels last season.
Skubal's combined numbers at AFA-Lakeland and AAX-Erie included a 2.42 ERA and a WHIP of 1.01.
File's A and AA level combined seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization include a 15-6 record, a 3.24 ERA, WHIP of 1.14 and 136 strikeouts over 147 innings. File and Skubal worked out together in Phoenix early this year and the young men with roots in northwest Arizona are champing at the bit for a coveted call-up.
``Me and Tarik have put so much work in together and being able to see the work pay off for both of us, I think that would be something special to do in the same year," File said, during a phone interview from Milwaukee.
``I've always said that Milwaukee is where I want to be. I'd love to play with the Brewers," File said. He said minor league players in Milwaukee have a better chance to advance to the big leagues because the organization has less money to purchase talent on the free agent market.
File is now in Appleton, Wisconsin, about an hour's drive from Milwaukee. He and others assigned to the taxi-squad don't travel with the Brewers, but they are available to be called up whenever necessary.
The 6'1", 205 lb. right-handed starting pitcher threw two simulated outings for the Brewers before spring training was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
``I was sitting 92 to 95 (mph). I was feeling good," File said. ``I touched 96 in the off season."
File throws a four-seam fastball that darts in and down on right-handed hitters. He said his repertoire includes a curve ball and slider he can keep in the zone.
``I'd say my best feature is my command. I throw pretty much any pitch in any count, which I think is my second-best feature," File said. ``I'm a strike thrower."
File said professional baseball resources from nutrition and training, to facilities and instruction are impressive. He benefits from the team's think tank.
``I've had a lot of work with our sports science team. Our analytic guys at the field are just awesome. They give me so much information," File said. ``They've helped me learn how to use my pitches and how my pitches work in certain scenarios. It's given me more of a feel and a better knowledge of how to get guys out."
He is adamant about being a starting pitcher rather than a reliever, but File said he's ready for whatever role Milwaukee may need him to fill.
``I'm open to whatever. Pitching is pitching," File said. ``I know it's different coming out of the bullpen rather than starting, but if they need me up there, whatever they need me for, I'll be there."
File said he is disappointed that the coronavirus cost him more than half a season in his prime. Nonetheless, his focus is upbeat.
``I was telling my wife the other day that COVID has really given us some blessings too, as much as it's been a curse," File said. ``I've never had so much time at home (Glendale). I've never had so much time to work on my body and get things stronger and working better and I got to spend more time with my family."
Make no mistake about it though. File is excited that he is a heartbeat away from a boyhood fantasy he can nearly taste.
No fans in stands due to the coronavirus means that his parents, Mohave County School Superintendent Mike File and Susan Hill, might not be present if he gets a chance to pitch for the Brewers anytime soon.
``I've been playing ball for 20 years now, dreaming of my day in the big leagues and being able to give a game ball to my dad and see my mom out in the stands when I take the mound and give them a big hug after the game," File said. ``So it's a little bitter sweet because if I do make it, that can't happen because there won't be fans there."
Most of all, File, like so much of America, is ready for baseball on Thursday.
``I'm really excited. 2020's been nothing but COVID," File said. ``Being able to start up and see baseball going on is exciting."