Paul Skenes Is Dominating in the Minor Leagues

The Pittsburgh Pirates prospect has not allowed a run and has a ridiculous strikeout rate.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are being cautious with No. 1 overall pick Paul Skenes, but the righthanded fireballer may be pushing up any existing timetable by absolutely dominating in Triple-A.

He was unhittable once again on Thursday night in a start for the Pirates' affiliate in Indianapolis, racking up eight strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work while striking out eight batters. The 21-year-old stretched his scoreless streak to 12.2 innings and has now fanned 27 for a ridiculous 19.2 K9 mark, which is both unsustainable and incredibly exciting.

Skenes is throwing smoke. Via MLB.com:

Skenes averaged 100.5 mph on his fastball and threw 100+ with 34 of his 43 total four-seamers. Since pitch tracking began in 2008, only Hunter Greene has thrown more triple-digit fastballs in a single Major League outing -- a feat the Reds right-hander has achieved six times. The 2023 No. 1 overall pick touched as high as 102.1 on a swinging third strike against veteran Tony Kemp (who was making his Twins organizational debut) in the second inning. That particular pitch was the fastest at Triple-A measured by Statcast so far this season.

It's not the largest of sample sizes and Skenes has yet to go more than four innings or throw more than 65 pitches in an outing.

“We don’t want to go from 0 to 100 right away,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said last week. “Paul’s so important to us long term, so we want to be really thoughtful about that.”

The major league club has gotten off to a nice start this season and sits at 11-8, even amid its recent three-game losing streak. It will be interesting to see how Skenes fits into the plans this season, but no matter how that looks, he's obviously going to be a cornerstone for many years to come.


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KYLE KOSTER