Heading into the 2023 MLB draft, the dominant narrative about LSU right-hander Paul Skenes has been that he’s been the most prepared player in years, and he’s already an MLB-level player playing in college.
It is rarely that simple.
Skenes, the first overall pick of the 2023 draft, made his Double-A debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Altoona Curve. His final streak: four earned runs, three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning of work. He did not come out of the first half.
for every Gameday feature at MiLB.comAll three hits Skenes allowed came on pitches in the middle section of the strike zone, including Aaron Brashaw’s RBI single:
This wasn’t the start the Pirates envisioned when they pushed him to Double-A after he threw four scoreless innings in three games between the Single-A Bradenton Marauders and the Pirates’ FCL.
He’s got at least some hits in:
This should be clearly stated here: one bad run doesn’t mean Skinnes is close to bankruptcy. Hacker fans shouldn’t panic. Skenes remains one of the best prospects in baseball. Saturday just goes to show that the distance between college ball and MLB is still too great, and very few players, if any these days, can make that leap without at least some spice in the youngsters.
The recently retired Stephen Strasburg, arguably the best prospect of all time and the person Skenes has been compared to many times, made 16 appearances as a minor leaguer before making his debut with the Washington Nationals in 2010. Gerrit Cole, a former No. 1 post general selection For college, he needs 31 starts to get out of the draft and into the major league Pirates.
Saturday was the real beginning of Skinnis’ adaptation to professional baseball. It can easily get smoother when he learns what won’t work against hitters who regularly see triple-digit heat and bad break balls, or he might need a little longer than expected. With things as horrible as him, it might still be worth the wait.