Say it with me now: Let’s Geaux Bucs!
"With the first pick of the 2023 Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates pick Paul Skenes, RHP from LSU." pic.twitter.com/UlR62ibfui— Platinum Ke’Bryan (@PlatinumKey13) July 9, 2023
The 2023 National Player of the Year was linked to the Pirates for months, and given his comparisons to former top arms, General Manager Ben Cherington made sure not to pass on him.
Skenes went 12-2 for the national champion Tigers this year. He also led Division I in strikeouts with 209 and came in second in ERA (1.69). In his career, which includes two seasons at Air Force, Skenes went 23-6 with a collective 2.18 ERA.
At Air Force, he was a two-way player, a trait Cherington has sought after in recent years.
People don’t remember Paul Skenes absolutely raked as a 2-Way Player at Air Force.— Talkin Nats (@TalkinNats) July 9, 2023
In 100 games from 2021-2022:
.367 Batting Average
.453 On Base %
.669 Slugging %
24 Home Runs
31 Doubles pic.twitter.com/LM30Gm9pUD
Skenes’ stats weren’t the only things that wowed fans. What caught everyone’s eye was his ability to consistetly hit 100+ miles per hour on his fastball while buckling hitters with his off-speed arsenal, which consists of a two-seam fastball, changeup, curveball and slider.
Skenes has garnered comparisons to former top picks Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole.
One area of concern, though, was his overuse from this season. Fans believe Tommy John Surgery could be in his future given the workload, but that is a big “if”. Despite this scare, Pirates fans seemed to think Skenes was the pick, given the results of our Twitter poll.
Alright, since everyone else is doing it…— Bucs Dugout (@BucsDugout) July 9, 2023
Who goes 1:1 to the Bucs?
Other notable choices linked to Pittsburgh were his teammate, outfielder Dylan Crews; Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford; and high schoolers Walker Jenkins and Max Clark.
Given his age, Skenes could take a Henry Davis-esque route if he and the Pirates agree on a contract. He could possibly start this year in either the Florida Coast League or Low-A Bradenton.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, Paul!