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Perrotto: The Survey Says — Bring Paul Skenes to the Big Leagues

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Paul Skenes, Ben Cherington, Pittsburgh Pirates

The survey was neither scientific nor a deep dive. The results were revealing, though.

I talked to a cross-section of five baseball people on Tuesday morning — a general manager, a manager, a pitching coach, a player development director and a scouting director.

All five were unanimous about two things. One, they hold Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington in high regard. Two, they feel Paul Skenes should already be in the major leagues.

That was before Skenes had another dominating start Tuesday night for the Pirates’ Triple-A Indianapolis farm club. The big right-hander pitched six scoreless innings and allowed four hits while striking seven and walking one.

His already jaw-dropping season statistics only got better.

Skenes has allowed just two runs – one earned – in 23 innings over six starts for a 0.39 ERA. He has surrendered 14 hits and walked six for a 0.87 WHIP. Skenes also has 41 strikeouts, a whopping 16.4 per nine innings.

Skenes is living up to the hype of being the first overall pick in last year’s amateur draft, the Pirates’ No. 1 prospect and the consensus choice as the top pitching prospect in baseball.

It has reached the point where Skenes has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. Nothing at all.

Again, the five people surveyed were unanimous in that belief BEFORE Skenes took the mound on Tuesday night. I highly doubt their opinions have changed.

All five understood the Pirates’ thinking in handling Skenes. Cherington wants him to get on a normal routine for a professional pitcher.

Yet while all five didn’t find fault with Cherington’s thinking, they all believed that it is unnecessary for Skenes to still be at Indianapolis.

The primary rationale was that Skenes would help the Pirates at the major-league level even if they had to continue closely monitoring his workload. It seems contradictory that the Pirates claim they want to win this season yet have their best pitcher in Triple-A.

The other reason was that the people surveyed thought Skenes might begin getting bored in the minor leagues after showing he has mastered the Triple-A level. He has a great arm, is extremely bright and has the mental toughness consistent with someone who was accepted to the Air Force Academy and spent two years there before transferring to LSU.

Despite being just 21, Skenes strikes me as a player who constantly needs new challenges. There is no longer doubt that he can handle the challenge in the major leagues.

This won’t turn out to be a cautionary tale like David Clyde. The Texas Rangers drafted Clyde first overall in 1973 following his graduation from Westchester High School in Houston and sent him straight to the major leagues.

Just like most 18-year-olds, Clyde was overwhelmed by the big leagues. He lost his confidence, got injured, had just 18 wins in five major-league seasons and became an alcoholic.

Skenes’ situation is much different. That’s not to say he won’t have some rough outings once he gets to the big leagues or that might turn out to be a flop.

However, the odds seem extremely long of Skenes not having a good career – with the fortune of good health, of course.

It’s time to bring Skenes to the big leagues and find out. Like the survey says.

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