Pittsburgh Pirates Draft: Potential Options at No. 1 Overall

Who could the Pirates take at no. 1 overall?

Jun 26, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; LSU Tigers center fielder Dylan Crews (3) celebrates after winning the
Jun 26, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; LSU Tigers center fielder Dylan Crews (3) celebrates after winning the / Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports
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Paul Skenes

In any other year, Paul Skenes would easily be the number-one pick, no questions asked. If Dylan Crews had a historically dominant season with the bat, then Skenes turned in a historically dominant season while pitching for LSU. There's quite literally not been an arm like his in the draft.

After an astounding season at the Air Force Academy, where he had a 2.73 ERA as a pitcher and 1.046 OPS as a batter, Skeens turned his full attention to pitching in 2023, and it did wonders for him and Louisiana. Skenes pitched 122.2 innings, working to a microscopic 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 10.45 K:BB ratio. Skenes was basically untouchable. He struck out 209 batters, accounting for 45.2% of his opponents. He wasn't just overpowering batters. He was dotting them up too. He had an equally impressive 4.3% walk rate. It also helps that he allowed just seven home runs for a 0.51 HR/9 rate.

Going back just a couple of years ago, when people were saying Jack Leiter was going to go to the Pirates number one overall, Leiter's numbers in his final season at Vanderbilt do not even compare to Skenes' numbers this year. Leiter had a 2.13 ERA, 3.98 K:BB ratio, and 0.85 WHIP. He had a 41.2% K-rate but a 10.5% walk rate and a 1.15 HR/9 rate.

Skenes truly has two 80-grade pitches. His four-seam fastball consistently sits at 97-99 MPH while topping out at 102 MPH. It has considerable carry through the zone and a slight touch of glove-side run. His slider became even sharper once he got to LSU. Sitting around 85-89 MPH, Skenes throws this pitch with sweeping action and 11 inches of break. He throws this pitch with almost a football-like spiral, which adds to its movement. Skenes doesn't just have two top-of-the-line offerings. He also throws a plus change-up. His third and final offering sits in the upper-80s/low-90s.

Skenes has plus command and a three-quarters arm slot. There's no pitcher the draft has seen who is more complete than Paul Skenes. This is a potential top ten MLB starting pitcher right here, and in most cases, would be the go-to number one pick.