MLB News

Paul Skenes debut: Pirates’ top prospect, No. 1 pick in 2023 MLB draft, promoted to majors


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The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, to make his big-league debut, the team announced Wednesday. He’ll make his first start on Saturday against the Cubs.

Skenes, 21, had made mincemeat out of minor-league competition since turning professional. The Pirates heavily restricted his workload, however, resulting in a longer stay on the farm than was required by his skill set. Through 27 1/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis this year, Skenes recorded 45 strikeouts and a 0.99 ERA while allowing just one home run.

The former LSU Tigers’ arsenal includes a 100 mph fastball, a swing-and-miss mid-80s slider, and a new splitter-sinker that checks in around 95 mph. Even Skenes’ seldom-used curveball, the slowest pitch in his repertoire, checks in around 84 mph.

CBS Sports ranked Skenes as the top pitching prospect in the minors entering the season

The Pirates selected Skenes over several well-regarded hitting prospects, including Washington Nationals outfielder Dylan Crews, Texas Rangers outfielder Wyatt Langford, and Minnesota Twins outfielder Walker Jenkins. Skenes is the third member of the first round to reach The Show, joining Langford and Nolan Schanuel, the No. 11 pick who joined the Los Angeles Angels about a month after being picked last summer.

Skenes will now join a rotation fronted by Mitch Keller, who signed a five-year, $77 million extension in February, and standout rookie Jared Jones.

From a service-time perspective, the Pirates waited long enough into the year to gain an additional year of control over Skenes’ talents. Players must accumulate six full years of big-league service time before they can qualify for free agency; in turn, a player must be on the big-league roster or injured list for 172 days to gain a year.

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