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Player Outlook
Paul Skenes, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft, is such a good pitching prospect that the most interesting thing to discuss with him is when he will make his big-league debut. He tallied 122.2 innings for LSU and 6.2 innings across stops at rookie ball, Single-A and Double-A last season (129.1 total innings), so there shouldn't be any notable workload restrictions in his age-22 season beyond the normal care teams show their most prized young arms. Additionally, if Skenes were to spend a full year in the majors and win rookie of the year, the Pirates would be rewarded with a Prospect Promotion Incentive draft pick at the end of the first round in 2025. The 6-foot-6 righty boasts two potential 80-grade pitches in his fastball (sits 99-100 mph, touches 103) and mid-80s slider. He has started throwing his upper-80s changeup more, and that looks like a potential third elite offering. The only things that could derail an ascent to ace status in a few years are injuries and/or unforeseen command issues. Skenes is generally seen as the best college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg, and Strasburg made 11 starts in the upper-levels of the minors before making his big-league debut. That could be Skenes' path as well, but there are different incentives in place now, so he will be appointment viewing in spring training games for as long as he remains in big-league camp.

Fantasy News

  • Pirates' Paul Skenes: Dominates across 3.1 innings

    Skenes allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight across 3.1 scoreless innings in Friday's start with Triple-A Indianapolis. Skenes made his third start of the season for Indianapolis, which turned out to be his longest. He threw 55 total pitches with 36 going for strikes. In total, Skenes has now thrown 9.1 innings and piled up 19 strikeouts without allowing a run. It's unclear when he'll join the Pirates' rotation or when the organization will begin to stretch him out a little more, but he and Jared Jones will form an exciting duo once Skenes gets promoted.
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  • Pirates' Paul Skenes: Three perfect innings

    Skenes threw three perfect innings while striking out five in Saturday's game with Triple-A Indianapolis. The Pirates want Skenes to continue to build up his workload and get some experience in pro ball before debuting in the majors, and Saturday's start was a good first step. According to Ben Weinrib of MLB.com, Skenes averaged 100.1 mph on 21 fastballs and none of the pitches came in below 99.1 mph. He threw a total of 46 pitches and will continue to increase the length of his outings. Assuming Skenes is successful in doing so, his debut in Pittsburgh this summer seems like an eventuality.
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  • Pirates' Paul Skenes: Reassigned to minor-league camp

    The Pirates reassigned Skenes to minor-league camp Sunday. Pirates GM Ben Cherington announced in early March that Skenes would be beginning the season in the minors, and his run in big-league camp has now come to a close. The 2023 first overall pick quickly made his way through the minor-league system last year and will begin 2024 at Double-A Altoona or Triple-A Indianapolis. If he continues to live up to his prospect pedigree, Skenes could make his MLB debut for the Pirates this summer.
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  • Pirates' Paul Skenes: Back on bump Thursday

    Skenes (illness) is scheduled to start Thursday in the Pirates' Spring Breakout game against the Orioles, Kevin Gorman of TribLive.com reports. The Pirates scratched Skenes ahead of his previous Grapefruit League start this past Saturday versus the Tigers, but he'll be back on the hill five days later to take on an Orioles lineup featuring a deep stable of prospects headlined by infielder Jackson Holliday. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 First-Year Player Draft, Skenes is set to begin the campaign at Double-A Altoona or Triple-A Indianapolis but could reach the big leagues at some point this season if he proves to be unfazed by opposing hitters in the upper levels of the minors.
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  • Pirates' Paul Skenes: Scratched from Saturday's game

    Skenes will not pitch in Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Tigers due to an illness, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. Skenes has appeared in two games -- including one start -- in spring training and has allowed one run on three hits while striking out three over three innings. The 2023 No. 1 overall pick will return to Grapefruit League action once he's shaken off his illness. He will begin the season in the minors.
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  • Pirates' Paul Skenes: Bypassing High-A, reaches Double-A

    The Pirates promoted Skenes from Single-A Bradenton to Double-A Altoona on Monday, Justice delos Santos of MLB.com reports. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 First-Year Player Draft has already ascended to his third different minor-league affiliate, bypassing the South Atlantic League entirely after brief stops in the rookie-level Florida Complex League and at Bradenton. The 6-foot-6 right-hander from LSU overwhelmed hitters during his two outings in the Florida State League, allowing just one baserunner and striking out four of the 10 batters he faced. Given the hefty workload he handled this spring and summer during LSU's run to the College World Series, Skenes will likely have his innings managed carefully at Altoona for the rest of the season. He's set to make his Double-A debut Saturday.
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