ALTOONA — In front of a sellout crowd with rising anticipation for the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pirates 2023 first-round pick (1st overall) Paul Skenes didn’t have a Double-A debut for the Altoona Curve to remember. The crowd was barely in their seats for the 6 p.m. start before the top Pirates prospect allowed four runs while recording two strikeouts Saturday at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
After rocketing through the lower levels of the Pirates system, Skenes was roughed up quickly.
Facing a lefty-heavy lineup, the big right-hander didn’t get many favors from the umpires, as a number of pitches caught the zone but were called balls. He threw 33 pitches, 16 of which went for strikes.
Skenes went ahead 0-2 against the first batter he faced, then allowed a hit through the right side. He allowed a five-pitch walk in the next at-bat.
After falling behind 3-1 to Juan Brito, Skenes fought back to earn his first punchout for the Curve with a pair of called-strike fastballs.
Rubber Ducks cleanup hitter Aaron Bracho jumped on the first pitch Skenes offered, giving Akron a 1-0 lead with a single to right.
Skenes got ahead 0-2 once again against Rubber Ducks right fielder Korey Holland. He couldn’t put Holland away, though, as three straight pitches that nipped the edge of the zone went against him. Holland poked a double just out of reach of third baseman Jackson Glenn, putting Akron up 2-0.
Skenes fell behind 3-1 in the next at-bat but again managed to fight back with a pair of breaking balls—one called, one swinging—for his second strikeout.
A five-pitch walk unceremoniously ended his outing. Noe Toribio entered, walking in a run and allowing another on a wild pitch. Both went against Paul Skenes‘ final line.
The Curve fought back with five runs across the next two innings, ensuring Skenes would receive a no-decision for the game.