If you build it, well, you know the rest.
Paul Skenes is built different. 6’6” right-handed pitchers that throw upwards of 100 mph don’t grow on trees and certainly can’t be missed when complemented by a wipeout slider.
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Skenes No. 1 overall out of LSU in the 2023 MLB Draft after winning the College World Series Most Outstanding Player Award and setting the LSU and SEC single-season strikeout records.
Skenes holds the capability to single-handedly alter the trajectory of a franchise, similar to comparisons of Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole. His first Double-A outing didn’t go according to plan, to say the least.
The 21-year-old allowed four runs in two innings of work, including three hits, two walks and two strikeouts. He left the game trailing 2-0 with two runners left on base, both coming around to score.
He delivered over 30 pitches in the inning and experienced drawn-out at bats against the Akron RubberDucks that prolonged his struggles. Skenes was visibly upset with himself over various misses close to the plate, some borderline pitches called out of the strike zone.
Nonsensical comments on various social media platforms by pessimistic observers penned his outing as another reason why the Pirates should have selected Dylan Crews. Others gripped that Skenes is a ‘bust’ because of the singular bad outing, most likely trolls whose only goal is to conjure negativity.
People are going to overreact to Paul Skenes’ first outing. He wasn’t bad. It wasn’t good either. Hit 99 mph. A bunch of singles that had eyes and left the infield. Being at the game, there were a couple of calls he didn’t get that could have flipped the script. He’ll be ok.
Skenes helped the Curve draw a record 10,164 fans, almost 3,000 over capacity (7,200).
We have a new record in Curve, PA: 10,164 fans at the ballpark tonight, the LARGEST CROWD IN PNG FIELD HISTORY!— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) August 27, 2023
We couldn’t do it without you all. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/q3XGXtSTIH
News flash, bad outings happen. What was even more impressive was what Skenes said after the game.
“A bad outing is just a bad outing,” Skenes told the media after the game. “It’s just baseball. Obviously, I want to go out there and win and pitch as best as I can every outing, and I’m going to do everything to prepare to do that for every outing. But it is baseball.”
His perspective wasn’t intended to belittle the sport but rather understands that bad days are part of the game, just like life.
“The beautiful thing is it’s never as bad as it seems, and it’s never as good as it seems,” Skenes said.
Skenes’ maturity level and experience at Air Force and LSU have paid dividends to where he is today, destined to be a significant part of the future for years to come. Pirates farm director John Baker said over the weekend Skenes will likely pitch the remainder of the year with Altoona. He will make his next start Friday night on the road against the Erie Seawolves.