Even the most ardent and watchful KC Royals fans may have missed it. Those who pay little, if any, attention to the organization’s minor league clubs almost certainly did.
It was easy to miss, this little-known fact about a player who’s never quite made it in Kansas City.
After Tuesday night, however, that fact may not be so obscure.
Eric Skoglund is back. And pitching for the Kansas City organization.
That Eric Skoglund. The one who has two big league wins in parts of three seasons with the Royals. The one who has a career 6.61 ERA. The one to whom Major League Baseball handed an 80-game PED-related suspension in 2019. And the one who hasn’t thrown a single pitch in a major or minor league game since 2019.
Eric Skoglund hasn’t had much major league success with the KC Royals.
Why the Royals have stuck by Skoglund for so long isn’t entirely clear. A third-round Kansas City pick in the 2014 amateur draft, his best performance at any professional level was the 6-3, 3.52 ERA record he put together at High-A Wilmington while the Royals were busy winning the American league pennant and World Series in 2015.
Unfortunately, that season remains his only winning campaign. He’s 2-11 in the majors, 20-28 in the minors, career efforts that aren’t, individually or collectively, at all promising.
Skoglund’s entry into the big leagues wasn’t the product of full development and progression. Instead, their shaky, injury-plagued rotation forced the Royals to promote him from Triple-A in late May of the 2017 season when he was only 2-3 at Omaha.
His debut suggested he’d be good for Kansas City—he threw 6.1 scoreless, two-hit, five-strikeout innings against Detroit and walked away with his first major league win.
Skoglund pitched for the Royals in parts of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but has only one more victory to his name, an April 28, 2018, start against the White Sox in which he struck out a career-high nine and allowed only a hit, walk and run in seven innings. But he lost his other six decisions that year, a dismal record somewhat mitigated by a troubling UCL strain.
He went 0-3, 9.00 in six starts in 2019 after returning from his suspension; his 3-5, 6.04 record at Omaha also wasn’t good. He, along with other minor leaguers who didn’t make their parent clubs’ 60-man Player Pools, missed the 2020 campaign.
The Royals invited Skoglund to spring training last season but later assigned him to their preseason minor league Alternate Training Site instead of keeping him on the big league roster.
Injury issues have prevented him from pitching in games until recently.
How is Eric Skoglund doing as he works to pitch again for the KC Royals?
Skoglund, 29, began this season on Omaha’s roster, where he remains on the Injured List while toiling on lower-level rehabilitation assignments.
He began with three starts in the Arizona Complex League. Skoglund lost his first, giving up a run but striking out two in one inning, then struck out five and didn’t give up a run, hit or walk in two no-decision innings. He was battered for six runs and eight hits in 1.2 innings, and lost, in his final ACL outing.
The lefthander moved up to High-A Quad Cities, started the River Bandits’ Tuesday night game against Wisconsin, and gave up a run on two hits and a pair of walks in 2.1 innings. He struck out two of the 11 Timber Rattlers he faced.
What’s next for Skoglund remains to be seen. He’s 0-2, 11.57 in his 2022 starts, but hurlers pitching on rehab assignments often don’t fare well because they’re frequently focused more on mechanics than anything else and working under strict pitch counts.
What is clear, however, is that Kansas City hasn’t given up on Skoglund.
After not pitching in the big leagues since 2019, Eric Skoglund is trying to work his way back to Kansas City.