June 19, 2024

Paul Skenes is embodying the potential ace qualities that the Pittsburgh Pirates envisioned when they selected the hard-throwing right-hander with the first overall pick in last year’s draft.

However, Pirates general manager Ben Cherington remains steadfast in sticking to the club’s internal timeline for Skenes’ debut in Pittsburgh, despite the 21-year-old’s stellar performance at Triple-A Indianapolis. While Skenes has showcased his impressive fastball, consistently hitting triple digits and racking up strikeouts, Pittsburgh is committed to nurturing his development gradually.

Cherington emphasized that Skenes is focusing on refining his skills to become a successful major league pitcher, rather than merely dominating at the Triple-A level. This includes developing his diverse repertoire of pitches, which now includes a unique “splinker,” described as a hybrid of a splitter and a sinker.

While Skenes demonstrated his potential with a career-high 71 pitches in his latest outing, Cherington declined to specify a pitch count threshold for Skenes’ readiness for a call-up. Instead, the Pirates are prioritizing efficiency tailored to Skenes’ strengths as a pitcher, rather than imposing a specific mold on him.

The Pirates are taking a cautious approach not only with their minor league prospects but also with their major league talents like Jared Jones. Despite Jones’ impressive performances, the team is mindful of his workload, as seen in his recent outings where he was pulled early to manage his pitch count.

Cherington acknowledged that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for handling high-end pitching prospects and emphasized the importance of balancing immediate game results with long-term player development goals.

Even in the majors, the Pirates are deliberate in managing their rotation, as evidenced by their decision to opt for a bullpen game over starting Quinn Priester on short rest. This approach reflects the team’s commitment to prioritizing player health and optimizing performance over the course of the season.

The Legend of Paul Skenes – LSU

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