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Paul Skenes Won’t Make Pirates Opening Day Roster

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Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes throws the pitch that resulted in a solo home run by Tampa Bay Rays Amed Rosario in the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game in Port Charlotte, Fla., Monday, March 4, 2024. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Top prospect Paul Skenes was told by the Pittsburgh Pirates that he will not make the club’s opening day roster. The news was reveled to reporters in Bradenton, Fla., by Pirates general manager Ben Cherington.

The decision is the expected one. The Pirates chose the 21-year-old with the first pick in the 2023 draft after a brilliant season with the Louisiana State University Tigers.

In his final collegiate season, his first with LSU after transferring from the Air Force Academy, Skenes went 13-2 with a 1.69 ERA in 19 starts. The right-hander totaled 122.2 innings, yielded 72 hits and walked 20 against 209 strikeouts.

Skenes made five starts across three different levels in the Pirates’ organization last season after he was drafted and climbed as high as Double-A Altoona. Across his five starts, Skenes totaled 6.2 innings pitched and allowed four runs — all of which came in one start. He recorded 10 strikeouts.

So far this spring, Skenes has made a pair of appearances. In total, he’s allowed one run on three hits across three innings pitched. Skenes has struck out three batters and hasn’t issued a walk.

On display in the Grapefruit League has been his power-fastball, which has touched triple-digits on numerous occasions. MLB Pipeline, who considered Skenes the third-best prospect in baseball, gives the pitch an 80-grade on the 20-80 scouting scale.

Skenes will either begin the 2024 season back with Altoona or in Triple-A Indianapolis. If healthy, he’s on track to make his major-league debut at some point this season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates still have two openings in their starting rotation behind Mitch Keller, Martín Pérez and Marco Gonzales. Though Skenes will remain in big-league camp for the time being, he will not be part of that competition.

Roansy Contreras, Luis Ortiz, Quinn Priester, Bailey Falter and Josh Fleming are among the pitchers trying to win one of the open spots.

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