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Pirates take two pitchers, one infielder in opening rounds of MLB Draft

Alongside LSU standout Paul Skenes, Ben Cherington made two more picks Sunday night.

MLB: MLB Draft Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates were on the clock three times during the first two rounds of the MLB Draft Sunday night. Of those picks, two pitchers were taken while one middle infielder was selected.

Let’s take a look at the new faces to the Pirates.

No. 1 — RHP Paul Skenes, LSU

Considering we wrote about the hard-throwing right-hander from LSU shortly after he was selected, we’ll peruse over his traits for now.

Skenes was tabbed to go either in the top three or first overall for months and the Pirates wasted no time in picking him. Fans consider Skenes to be the “ace of the future” and some are already putting together potential rotations with him at the top.

The 2023 National Player of the Year can reach up to 103 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball, but can also fool hitters with a two-seam fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball. Prior to his junior season with LSU, Skenes was a two-way player at Air Force, claiming the John Olerud Award after hitting .410 his freshman season and .314 his sophomore year.

Skenes was also tabbed as “transformational” by several analysts.

A deal is in the works between Skenes and the Pirates, according to reports, and the signing bonus is expected to be around $9.2 million. The expected bonus was around $9.5 million.

Cherington expects Skenes to pitch again this year but didn’t disclose what level he would start with.

Read more about Skenes in our story here.

No. 42 — SS Mitch Jebb, Michigan State

With the 42nd pick in the draft, the Pirates surprised fans by taking contact-heavy shortstop Mitch Jebb out of Michigan State.

Jebb’s power grade ranks at a mere 40, but he was taken for his ability to hit and get on base consistently. He dealt with a wrist injury that hindered his senior year, but he still managed to post a .337 average in 50 games.

His exceptional hitting followed him to the Cape Cod League last year as he came in second in hitting with a .356 mark.

Along with his hitting, Jebb is known for his speed. In three seasons with the Spartans, Jebb stole 38 bases on 51 attempts.

Should he make it to MLB, Jebb will likely play third or second, given the Pirates’ depth at shortstop. His slot value carries a little more than $2 million.

No. 67 — RHP Zander Mueth, Belleville East High School (Illinois)

It took three picks but the Pirates were able to snag a high school arm at No. 67. That being Mississippi commit Zander Mueth, who spent last year at Belleville East High in Illinois.

Mueth was ranked as the No. 27 prospect in the draft class and No. 6 by Perfect Game. He matches up height-wise to Skenes at six feet, six inches, but weighs a lot less at 190 pounds. He provides a low to mid 90s fastball, but it has crept up to 97 a couple times. Along with his fastball, Mueth has a changeup and slider in his arsenal, which generated plenty of whiffs.

Rounds three through 10 will get underway this afternoon around 2 o’clock with one minute between picks. The Pirates have the third pick in the third round.