Pittsburgh Pirates: Paul Skenes to Concentrate on Pitching

2023 MLB Draft presented by Nike
2023 MLB Draft presented by Nike / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Paul Skenes, the Pittsburgh Pirates top overall selection in 2023, faced an intriguing decision recently: whether to pitch and hit in the minors. Jason Mackey broke this news after Skenes' most recent appearance in Bradenton. He chose to concentrate on pitching for now, recognizing it as his initial path to the top. Yet, the "for now" aspect sparks curiosity. Could this indicate a well-thought-out strategy by Skenes and the Organization? Potentially.

This season, it seems Skenes will be focused on perfecting his pitching skills, adapting to the team's dynamic, and laying down a solid foundation on the mound. After all, this is what made him the first overall selection. Looking ahead, the upcoming off-season could offer an opportunity for him to expand his horizons. This break from pitching might allow him to enhance his hitting abilities.

Before pitching at LSU, Pittsburgh Pirates top overall selection Paul Skenes did both hit and pitch at Air Force.

Given his background as a college hitter, 2024 might see Skenes embracing the two-way player challenge. The prospect of him taking on the role of a designated hitter (DH) is exciting, both for him and for the Pirates. This potential transition could provide insights into Skenes' potential as a hitter, while also offering his pitching arm a well-deserved rest.

The team had a similar approach with Bubba Chandler out of the 2021 Draft. He was doing both, but they figured out that he truly had a future on the mound and to reach that potential he needed to focus more on the pitching side of things. Now, Chandler also was not exactly lighting the world on fire with the bat hitting .196 in 102 at-bats.

While the course of action isn't set in stone, the idea of Skenes showcasing his hitting skills next spring is tantalizing. As he continues to mature and adjust to professional play, the Pirates' strategic approach for him could potentially lead to an impactful career as both a pitcher and a hitter. This unique journey through the minor leagues could ultimately pave the way for a bright future, not only in the minors but also on the grand stage of the major leagues.