Right-Handed Starting Pitcher - Paul Skenes
Paul Skenes is the complete package for a pitcher: a flaming four-seam fastball, a slider that is unhittable, and a change-up that falls off the table. On top of that, he’s an athletic pitcher who probably could have seen time as a two-way player if he opted to. But even just as a pitcher, Skenes has the ceiling of a generational talent.
Throughout his season at Louisiana State University, Skenes pitched 122.2 innings, enroute to a College World Series title. His final line included a 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 10.45 K:BB ratio, Skenes only allowed seven home runs as well, which is good for an 0.51 HR/9. Skenes struck out 209 batters, resulting in a K% of 45.2%. His 20 walks gave him a BB% of 4.3%. There’s not many other ways to put it other than just pure video game numbers.
After the Pirates drafted Skenes number one overall and signed him to a record breaking $9.2 million signing bonus, the flamethrower was put on a strict innings limit. In five starts spread between the FCL and Double-A, Skenes only pitched 6.2 innings. All of his earned runs came in one start for Altoona. However, he struck out 10 batters and only allowed two to reach via free pass.
Skenes was tossing 100+ MPH with ease during his season at LSU. 103 MPH is the fastest he threw, but was consistently sitting 97-100 MPH. Skenes also tosses a slider with wicked break, and a change-up. Both his four-seamer and slider are 80-grade offerings, but don’t sleep on his change-up. It has the potential to develop into a 60-grade pitch. Skenes also started to throw a curveball a couple of times in his starts with Bradenton.
Unlike many young hard throwing pitchers, Skenes does not struggle with command. Quite the opposite. He paints the zone just as good as anyone. He has a clean, low-effort delivery, and athleticism that could affect his long term projection shouldn’t be an issue. Skenes was a catcher/first baseman before transferring to LSU from the Air Force Academy.
The only question that really remains is when will Skenes make his big league debut? At the very least, you could guarantee him to be in the rotation by the All-Star break. Skenes could easily become the best pitcher the Pirates have had in decades, maybe even ever. That’s a lot to ask, but if there is any pitching prospect who’s come through the draft since Stephen Strasburg who could handle such a tall task, it’s Skenes.
Honorable Mentions: Jared Jones