MLB News

Paul Skenes’ path to MLB: How Pirates phenom went from two-way college star to national champ to majors

Paul Skenes' path to MLB: How Pirates phenom went from two-way college star to national champ to majors

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. It will be the most-anticipated pitching debut by a former collegiate star since Stephen Strasburg in 2010. 

Skenes breezed through minor-league competition since turning professional. 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. 

Skenes, 21, won a national championship with LSU in 2023 after transferring in from Air Force. He quickly became a household name for fans of the sport, an imposing 6-foot-6, mustachioed presence and one half of an LSU power couple with Olivia Dunne

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

Here’s what you need to know about Skenes’ journey. 

Quick ascents nothing new for Skenes  

It’s never taken Skenes long to acclimate to whatever situation he’s put in. He didn’t even start his first game as a pitcher until his junior year at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, California. Prior to that, he played catcher, first base and third base for the same prep program that’s produced the likes of Nolan Arenado and Matt Chapman. 

That first season pitching, Skenes posted a 0.67 ERA and earned first team all-league, all-county, all-conference and all-state honors. His senior year was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though he was mowing batters down through a handful of appearances. 

The pandemic cut short what could have been a prolific season for Skenes, with national acclaim, draft hype and major collegiate offers sure to follow. Instead, Skenes honored a longstanding commitment to Air Force and accepted an appointment to the class of 2024. 

Blossoming into a two-way star

Air Force’s coaching staff saw Skenes’ potential as a do-it-all star from the moment he stepped foot on campus. He started all 48 games as a freshman — though none as a pitcher — with 28 starts at designated hitter, 18 at catcher and two at first base. 

Not that Air Force didn’t work his arm. He also made 18 appearances as a relief pitcher, often serving as a closer for the Falcons. He was the only player at the Division I level to notch double-digit saves (11; tied for first in a…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Headlines…