Untouchable - Paul Skenes
The Pirates drafted Paul Skenes with the number one overall pick, and there's almost no doubt in my mind that if there is anyone in the system who is untouchable, it would be him. The Bucs inked him to a record-setting signing bonus valued at $9.2 million. The hard-throwing right-hander arguably has the highest ceiling of any pitching prospect currently in the minor leagues.
Skenes pitched 122.2 innings for Louisiana State University in their College World Series run, pitching to a 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 10.45 K:BB ratio. Skenes struck out 45.2% of the batters he faced with a microscopic 4.3% walk rate. He also wasn't prone to the long ball, with a HR/9 of just 0.51. After the Pirates drafted Skenes, they were cautious with his innings, only allowing him to pitch 6.2 frames throughout the minor leagues last season.
Skenes throws hard and had the second-highest fastball velocity among all minor league pitchers in 2023. He can top out at 102 MPH when he reaches back for more velocity. Skenes also has a devastating slider and a plus change-up. Skenes isn't just a young flamethrower with little command. He has a well-above-average ability to locate with plenty of athleticism, which should help him further develop his command.
For the Pirates to even start to consider moving Skenes, it would have to be for an insane haul. We're talking about something like George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, and at least one of Bryan Woo, Emmerson Hancock, Bryce Miller from the Mariners, Jesus Luzardo, Edward Cabrera, and Jake Burger from the Marlins. Of course, neither team would make that trade. Skenes is great, but nobody would give up that much for him, and if there was any prospect the Pirates wouldn't budge in their asking price, it would be Skenes.