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MLB Draft Prospect Preview

by J.T. Toth

Photo of Paul Skenes courtesy of Tiger Rag.

The Pittsburgh Pirates own the #1 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft which is scheduled for July 9th-July 11th in Seattle, WA. This draft could be the final piece of GM, Ben Cherington’s puzzle to catapult the Buccos into a yearly contender. In the next few weeks Draft 412 will showcase the top prospects coming out in 2023.

Name- Paul Skenes

Pos- RHP Starting Pitcher

Team- LSU Tigers

HT/WT- 6’6” 247 lbs

Born- 5/29/2002.

Home – Fullerton, CA

Paul Skenes started as a catcher at the high school level and was known more for his prowess at the plate than pitching. Skenes would finally step on the mound his junior year, becoming the teams closer at El Toro High. El Toro did not have any catchers who could handle the power arm of Skenes so the team used him as a catcher on a regular basis. Skenes' senior season was shortened due to the pandemic but was still able to throw 27 innings and only give up one earned run. He would also smash three homeruns and had a 1.057 OPS.

Skenes, most likely would have been drafted after his senior season if not for a firm commitment to the Air Force Academy. In 2021, his first season at Air Force, Skenes hit .410 with 11 home runs while catching some games and pitching others. Skenes was 1-1 with 18 saves as the Falcons closer. His second season at Air Force saw Skenes blossom into a starting pitcher. Even

though he would start 12 games at catcher, he would go on to start 15 games, posting a 10-3 record with a 2.73 ERA. At the plate, he hit .314 with 13 homeruns but was seen as too tall for the catching position and with his powerful arm hitting the upper 90’s he would transfer to LSU to concentrate on his pitching skills.

So far at LSU, Skenes has been dominating with a 9-1 record and a 1.73 ERA, while striking out 139 batters in only 72.2 innings. His fastball sits at 99-101 mph with movement, while he has a plus slider that hits 86-90. With a 6’6” build, Skenes throws from a ¾ arm slot and can hide the ball well. Skenes has been compared to the 2009 first overall pick Stephen Strasburg from San Diego St.

Final Analysis

Paul Skenes would be the first overall pick in most MLB Drafts with his 100 plus MPH fastball to go with his plus slider. This year’s draft is so unique with his LSU teammate, OF-Dylan Crews, dominating offensively. The Pirates can go SP or OF and not make a bad decision. If I were Ben Cherington, I would go with the OF.

Round 1- Top 2-3/ #2 on Draft 412 big board.

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