Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Three Storylines to Follow in 2024

Let's look at three storylines to follow among the Pirates' top prospects.

Altoona Curve starting pitcher Paul Skenes throws against the Erie SeaWolves at UPMC Park in Erie on
Altoona Curve starting pitcher Paul Skenes throws against the Erie SeaWolves at UPMC Park in Erie on / GREG WOHLFORD/ERIE TIMES-NEWS / USA
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When does Paul Skenes debut?

Paul Skenes was the Pirates' first-round pick in 2023 and the first overall pick in the draft. Considered the best pitching draft prospect since Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, Skenes' signing bonus broke the previous record. Now, the question on everyone's mind is when will the Pirates get Skenes in the big leagues?

The Pirates were very strict on Skenes' workload once he reached the minor leagues. He pitched just 6.2 frames in five games. That's because he was used extremely heavily last year for Louisiana State University. He threw 122.2 innings prior to getting drafted. Including the 6.2 innings he pitched between four minor league levels, Skenes' workload from 2022 increased by nearly 45 innings.

Upping Skenes' workload to ~150 innings would only be increasing it by about 20 innings. That's a fairly reasonable and acceptable amount of innings without getting into concerns about overworking him and causing potential injury. The question now remains when Skenes will get to the bigs.

While the Pirates put Skenes on a strict regimen, they were not shy about moving him up each rung of the minor leagues. Skenes made his debut at the Pirates' Florida Complex League affiliate. But he pitched his last game of the season at Double-A Altoona. That's probably where he will start the 2024 season. Only time will tell when Skenes gets promoted, but I'd guess that as long as things go relatively according to plan, we will see him sometime in May.