KANSAS CITY -- D-backs hot prospect Tyler Skaggs started the Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game last year at Chase Field. This year, he was a late roster addition for the U.S. team when Trevor Bauer was brought up to the Major Leagues.The Triple-A Reno left-hander joined Double-A Mobile outfielder Alfredo Marte in Sunday's game at Kauffman Stadium, the first major on-field event leading up to Tuesday night's 83rd All-Star Game. "This time I feel like I can soak it in more," said Skaggs, comparing the two experiences. "Last year, I was starting the game. I was home and really, really focused. This time I'm more laid back. I'm really not on the spot anymore. I really get to enjoy the Futures Game this time."
A year ago, Skaggs tossed the first inning against the World team, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out a batter. This year, he worked the fifth inning in the U.S. team's 17-5 victory, allowing a single and striking out one. He tossed eight pitches.At Reno, he's 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts after going 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 13 starts at Mobile. Marte was the starting left fielder for the World team on Sunday. At Mobile, he's a .295 hitter with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in 66 games. "It's a great experience here," said Marte, who went 0-for-3 in the game, including a fifth-inning flyout against Skaggs. "I'm honored to be representing the Dominican Republic. I'm having a good season so far. I feel great. It's great to be here." Skaggs is one of the top prospects in a pitching-rich organization. He was obtained from the Angels nearly two years ago along with pitchers Joe Saunders, Patrick Corbin and Rafael Rodriguez for right-hander Dan Haren. Haren and Saunders are currently on the disabled list and Corbin is on the D-backs roster. Skaggs is just waiting his turn. "Last year I was really focused at proving that I belonged, that I was one of the top prospects in the Minor Leagues," Skaggs said. "I think I did that last year. Now I'm trying to show them that I'm on that top tier ready to go to the big leagues." To that end, Skaggs said he's working on "a little bit of a cutter" to add to his fastball, curve and changeup. "It's coming along well," he said. "I'm trying to model it as kind of Cliff Lee cutter. That's what I really want it to be like. That's going to be pretty tough to do because he throws a pretty good cutter. But it's a work in progress."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 4:30 p.m. MST. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.