Key parts to the Detroit Tigers’ future are firing away in Double-A.

The Erie SeaWolves, who are playing in Portland this week, feature three of Detroit’s first-round draft picks – and an investment of $14.5 million in signing bonuses – in their rotation.

Then there’s lefty Tarik Skubal, chosen all the way down in the ninth round last year and handed a measly $350,000 bonus.

Skubal, however, ranks up there with the millionaires. He stifled the Sea Dogs on Wednesday night in a 10-4 rout at Hadlock Field.

The Sea Dogs got to the Erie bullpen for four runs, including a two-run homer by C.J. Chatham, but Erie produced 20 hits against five Portland pitchers.

Skubal, from the University of Seattle, pitched five scoreless innings, allowing one hit and no walks. He struck out 10.


A lefty with a 96 mph fastball, Skubal retired the first 11 batters – eight by strikeout – before Chatham broke up any thoughts of perfection with a two-out double in the fourth inning. Skubal retired the final four batters he faced.

“He had some good stuff and was overpowering us early,” Sea Dogs Manager Joe Oliver said.

The only consolation for Portland is that the Tigers are limiting Skubal’s outings. This is his first full pro season, and he had Tommy John surgery two years ago. He needed only 66 pitches to dominate the Sea Dogs.

“That’s what he’s been doing his entire time here,” Erie Manager Mike Rabelo said. “Above-average fastball, good life in the zone, and he comes right at you. Power stuff.”

Skubal was promoted to Double-A in July, joining first-rounders Casey Mize, Alex Manning and Alex Faedo. In his six starts, he sports a 1.86 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 29 innings.

While Skubal (1-1) was smothering the Sea Dogs, Portland starter Matt Kent (5-4) could not contain the SeaWolves.


Two months ago, Kent threw seven scoreless innings in Erie, allowing only two hits. The SeaWolves made adjustments, and the first four batters singled for a 2-0 lead.

Kent steadied himself and kept the deficit at two until the fourth inning, when Jose Azocar’s two-run homer capped a three-run inning. Erie chased Kent in the fifth with two more runs.

Chatham’s two-run blast to left-center was part of a four-run sixth inning.

“We battled back,” Oliver said, “but then it got out of hand.”

Sea Dogs reliever Adam Lau pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing one hit (three strikeouts).

Durbin Feltman entered in the seventh. He faced seven batters, giving up four singles and two runs, along with three strikeouts.

Jordan Weems struck out the side in the eighth but allowed a Daniel Pinero home run.

The two teams play the rubber game of the series at noon Thursday.

NOTES: Chatham’s 2-for-4 night bumped up his league-leading average to .296. … Jarren Duran stole his 21st base in 27 tries. … Second baseman Jeremy Rivera was 2 for 3 but came out of the game in the seventh after taking a hard tag to the face. … The announced paid attendance was 5,404. … Catcher Jhon Nunez, who injured his hamstring running out a double Tuesday night, was placed on the injured list. Catcher Charlie Madden was summoned to fill his spot.

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