As Santa Monica High approaches its showdown with Culver City for the Ocean League baseball championship and then the CIF playoffs Tyler Skaggs has a sprained ankle.Skaggs was limited to three innings in a 7-3 win over Morningside on Thursday, April 30 and his status is unknown for this week against Beverly Hills.It is anticipated the 6-foot-4 senior left-handed pitcher will be able to oppose Culver City the following week.Santa Monica, which also had a 10-3 win over Morningside last week and a 7-5, 10-inning non-league loss to a Palos Verdes team with a 19-4 record, is currently tied with Culver City for the Ocean League lead, both with one league loss. Hawthorne was in the mix too before losing twice to Beverly Hills last week.’I’m not sure where Tyler hurt his ankle but it’s been sore recently,” said Samohi coach Rob Duron. “We’ve pinch-run for him but he didn’t miss any pitching turns.”With an early 7-0 lead on Morningside, however, Duron had relievers finish. The move cost Skaggs the win, but that was hardly important since he’s headed for a first round selection in the June baseball draft and, quite likely, a large bonus offer.’He’s the real deal,” said Duron. “And he’s only 17. This is not a polished 21-year-old but a youngster who’s made a lot of progress from the beginning of last season until now.”As good as Skaggs is he’s not likely to be the first pitcher chosen in the draft and perhaps not the second. Steven Strasburg from San Diego State College has a fastball that’s been clocked at 103 mph and is the likely No. 1 pick. The Washington Nationals, who choose first, are expected to meet his request for a bonus in the $10 million to $12 range and Strasburg is expected to pitch in the major leagues right away.Younger pitchers such as Skaggs will receive a large bonus but then require training in the minor leagues. Another pitcher attracting attention is a high school senior in Florida who threw four straight no-hitters this season.Scouts whose reports will determine the draft order and size of the bonus have been regulars at Samohi games when Skaggs pitches. A website which specializes in the draft currently projects Skaggs as the No. 9 pick with a bonus large enough to have him skip his college career at Cal State Fullerton.Duron has settled on Logan Whitchurch as his second starter for league games and junior Alonzo Gonzalez has edged freshman Adam Padilla as the starter for non-league Saturday games.If Skaggs is unable to face Beverly Hills Gonzalez would likely get the start. But Gonzalez’ season-long problem with wildness was a factor in Palos Verdes’ comeback from a 5-2 deficit against Samohi Saturday.”He can become very good and it was a non-league game so I stayed with him,” said Duron before walks led to Samohi problems. “In league games and the playoffs it will be a different matter. Pitchers will be on a short leash.”Samohi, which has played an extremely demanding schedule, began the week with a 14-10 record. The Vikings won the Ocean League a year ago in Duron’s first season.
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