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Perrotto: Yasmani Grandal Dishes on Paul Skenes

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Mitch Keller, Yasmani Grandal, Pittsburgh Pirates, Paul Skenes

Paul Skenes has certainly earned his promotion to the major leagues. His statistics are proof of that.

The Pirates plan to call the big right-hander up from Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday. The first overall pick in last year’s draft will debut that afternoon with a start against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

Skenes was overpowering at Indianapolis as he had a 0.99 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP and 14.8 strikeouts per nine innings in seven starts. The 21-year-old gave up just four runs (three earned) on 17 hits in 27.1 innings while striking out 45 and walking eight.

So, the numbers certainly paint a clear picture of Skenes’ dominance.

But what about the scouting reports? Do they match Skenes’ gaudy statistics?

Well, we asked someone who would know. Pirates catcher Yasmani Grandal caught Skenes once and was the designated hitter in another one of the youngster’s starts while on a rehab assignment at Indianapolis.

Grandal has a wealth of catching knowledge as he has spent 13 major-league seasons at the position. Grandal was behind the plate on April 24 when Skenes needed 71 pitches to make it through 4.1 innings. Six days later, Skenes logged a career-high six innings on 75 pitches.

Grandal knows Skenes has the raw talent to succeed in the big leagues. However, the improvement in pitch efficiency caught Grandal’s eye.

“With Skenes, after the start I caught him, we started talking about how we could get him deeper in the game with the pitch count like he had when he went back and had another outing in Omaha and executed the game plan exactly how we wanted him,” Grandal said. “Same thing, we made sure he had early contact within one or two pitches and see if we can get you deeper in the game. The third time out, he was able to do it – 74 pitches, six innings. That was pretty impressive.”

Skenes has been lauded for his work ethic since being selected first in last year’s amateur draft from LSU. Skenes brought that mentality to Baton Rouge – and helped the Tigers win the College World Series – from his first two collegiate seasons at Air Force before transferring.

Grandal watched Skenes’ between-starts preparation and came away impressed.

“After his start, I was talking to one of the reporters and that’s one of the things that I told him: ‘You see everything that’s out on the field when he starts but you don’t see the work behind the scenes. That’s the most impressive part about it, the fact that he goes about it the right way and he knows what to do. That’s good to see younger guys doing that.”

Time will tell exactly how well Skenes lives up to the huge hype that has accompanied him through his brief time in the minor leagues.

However, Skenes has plenty of talent. He also has a great work ethic and maturity that belies his young age.

Thus, Skenes has many things in his favor as he gets set for his biggest challenge.

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