Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Paul Skenes Debuts with Triple Digits

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

In a much-anticipated moment, Paul Skenes, the standout draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, took the mound for the Florida Complex League (FCL) team on August 10th. Facing the Twins affiliate, Skenes showcased his prowess with a standout performance that had fans and scouts buzzing.

Pitching during the afternoon game, Skenes made an immediate impact, delivering a clean and commanding first inning. He effortlessly set down the lineup of the Twins affiliate in order. The first batter of the game grounded out on a first-pitch fastball clocked at 99 miles per hour. The second hitter did let Skenes get deeper, by flying out on the third pitch. Skenes started the at-bat hitting 100 mph on a swinging strike. He followed it up with a slider that caught the outside edge for a strike. He finished the at-bat inducing a flyout on a 100 mph fastball.

However, the standout moment of Skenes' debut was his encounter with Walker Jenkins, the 2023 5th Overall selection. Jenkins was one of the top two prep players to be drafted along with Tiger's outfielder Max Clarke. Skenes started Jenkins off with a first-pitch changeup (89 mph) that ran low out of the zone for a ball. Then came a 101 mph heater for a swinging strike. After missing the zone with a slider, Skenes would get Jenkins to swing and miss on an outside heater clocked at 99 mph. Before striking out Jenkins would foul off another 101 mph fastball before striking out swinging on a 99 mph fastball up in the zone.

Adding to the clean inning, Skenes clocked a blazing 101 mph on the radar gun twice during the first inning, finally getting to show his explosive fastball that fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates have been waiting to see. Unfortunately, this was the only inning of work for Skenes.

This was an interesting decision. Obviously, Skenes had a really nice professional debut. The plan going in was most likely for him to throw either an inning or was going to be held to a lower pitch count. The good news is that Skenes did exactly what he should do at the Florida Complex League. Skenes is older and has faced better competition in the SEC compared to the FCL.

Regardless, this was more about Skenes getting his feet wet in a perfect environment. I was able to catch a stream of the game and behind home plate were at least 5 Pittsburgh Pirates personnel at a table, writing things and having monitors in front of them. As I said a few days ago, the reason Skenes is in Pirate City is more for the Organization to get complete data on his stuff and his body on the mound. Just throwing 1 inning could be suggestive of the Organizations plan to move him up to high levels. This needs to happen even if he is throwing in shorter stints.