Bucs' Skenes stays nearly spotless through third pro start

August 20th, 2023

If you've been waiting to see a professional lineup figure out Paul Skenes, you'll have to keep waiting.

MLB's No. 3 prospect struck out a pair over two no-hit frames in his second start for the Pirates' Single-A Bradenton Marauders, a 6-0 loss to Lakeland, on Sunday. The top overall pick in this year's Draft has allowed one hit without giving up a walk over four scoreless innings as a pro so far.

Skenes was clocked over 98 mph four times in his latest outing, touching 98.8 on his 25th pitch of the day. He threw a total of 28 pitches -- 19 strikes.

The two Flying Tigers hitters to reach base against the LSU standout were the first two hitters of the game. Skenes got Lakeland leadoff hitter Jim Jarvis to chase a wild pitch for strike three, but Jarvis scampered to first as the ball got away from Marauders catcher Justin Miknis. Max Anderson -- a second-round pick this year and the Tigers' No. 14 prospect -- then reached on an error by Bradenton first baseman Omar Alfonzo.

Skenes responded by punching out the next hitter on four pitches and plowing through the five to follow. Known for triple-digit heat in his pro career, the 21-year-old righty has worked in the upper 90s over his two Single-A starts after hitting 101 mph four times and 100 mph three times in his first pro start with the Rookie-level Pirates.

“It's not going to be 101 every outing,” Skenes told MLB.com after his first outing with Bradenton. “The thing I look for is just maintaining the velocity. ... I think that's more telling about where my body is, my strength and conditioning.

“If you have a well-spotted fastball at 96 [mph] or whatever, it's going to work too. Velocity, it's a tool, it helps you get away with some stuff. It’s a really good tool to have, but it's not the end-all, be-all by any means, because a well-executed fastball at whatever velocity is the best pitch in baseball, I think.”

Skenes allowed one hit and fanned two over one scoreless inning in that one -- also against Lakeland -- and that single by the Flying Tigers' Seth Stephenson remains the only base knock he's surrendered as a pro.