LSU's Skenes reaches double-digit K's in 6th straight

No. 4 Draft prospect strikes out 12, continues dominant run

March 25th, 2023

The weather in Baton Rouge was hot but Paul Skenes was downright blistering.

The Louisiana State right-hander, ranked No. 4 on MLB Pipeline’s Draft Top 100, continued his dominant start to the 2023 college baseball season with a seven-inning, 12-strikeout performance against Arkansas on Friday.

Skenes has struck out at least 11 batters in all six of his starts for the Tigers (a streak that’s only been matched at the Major League level by Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez) though this was the first time he was able to complete the seventh inning.

It was also his first no-decision of the year -- the Razorbacks rallied for eight runs in the top of the tenth inning after LSU’s Brady Neal tied the game with a homer in the bottom of the eighth.

“Pitching in the heat and humidity is tough,” Skenes told local reporters. “That was something I did a lot in the fall so that was something I had to draw on today … I was really happy with [the outing].”

Skenes had a perfect trip through the Arkansas batting order his first time around, striking out five in three frames. He allowed a run to score on a sacrifice fly in the fourth and walked the bases loaded in the sixth, but Brady Slavens was caught looking at a 99 mph fastball on the inner half of the plate to strand three.

Skenes, in his first year at LSU after transferring from the United States Air Force Academy, has lived up to expectations and then some. Through six starts, the 20-year-old is 5-0 with an 0.72 ERA and 71 strikeouts against seven walks -- again, with three of them coming in the sixth on Friday -- in 37 1/3 innings.

The southern California native was a force in the Falcons’ lineup as well as their pitching staff over his first two collegiate seasons, hitting .367 with 24 home runs in addition to a 2.72 ERA in 112 1/3 innings on the mound. Since transferring to LSU, however, Skenes has strictly focused his attention on his pitching, which has him firmly in the (early) conversation for the first overall pick, held by the Pirates, in the upcoming Draft.

Where he’s ultimately selected is just a formality. As Texas A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle put it after Skenes dominated his squad in his previous start: “He’s pitching in the wrong league, I’ll tell you that. He needs to be in the American or National League.”

Or as Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn -- who has been in charge in Fayetteville since 2003 -- put it, there may not be many collegiate arms like Skenes' in recent memory.