Skenes vs. Holliday? PIT-BAL intriguing matchup in Spring Breakout

February 16th, 2024

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When looking towards the upcoming Spring Breakout game between the Pirates and Orioles, there is one matchup that immediately stands out.

“Seeing Paul [Skenes] versus [Jackson] Holliday is going to be pretty cool,” Bubba Chandler said.

A potential matchup between the last two No. 1 overall Draft picks and MLB Pipeline’s picks for the top hitting and pitching prospect in the game? That should have plenty of intrigue, to say the least.

Spring Breakout rosters will be revealed live on MLB Network on Thursday, March 7, at 11 a.m. ET. The Pirates and Orioles will play their Spring Breakout game on Thursday, March 14, at 7:05 p.m. ET on MLB Network, SportsNet Pittsburgh and MLB’s digital platforms (, MLB.TV and the MLB app). The contest will be an opportunity for both clubs to show off their top prospects and offer fans a glimpse of what their teams could look like in the future.

“They’ve got a pretty good lineup,” Skenes said with a smile. “We’re going to face them a few times anyway, but if that’s the first time I face [Holliday] and a couple of guys in that lineup, awesome.”

The Pirates and Orioles are a natural matchup for the game since they have two of the top farm systems -- their farm systems ranked as the top two in the sport in the midseason 2023 update -- and their Spring Training homes of Bradenton and Sarasota are neighboring cities. It’s also a matchup of some of the best pitching prospect depth against some of the best hitting prospect depth.

Four Pirate pitchers cracked MLB Pipeline’s list of the top 100 prospects: Skenes (No. 3), Jared Jones (No. 62), Anthony Solometo (No. 82) and Chandler (No. 93). To counter, the Orioles have five hitters in that top 100. While it’s not yet known who all will play in the game, it’s shaping up to be a showcase of organizational strengths.

“They’ve got a really good organization over there, and I think we do, too,” Jones said. “It should be fun to pitch against them and how we compete against each other.”

There's also plenty of familiarity between these two batches of young players. Some of that is due to the proximity of their spring facilities and facing each other in their varying stops to the Majors. But for someone like Jones and Orioles prospect Coby Mayo, the No. 30 prospect in the game, they have been teammates or opponents plenty of times growing up.

“He’s a really good hitter,” Jones said. “He’s gotten me a few times. I’ve gotten him a few times.”

Some rubber matches, first outings and informal introductions should be in store on March 14. It’s not yet known which of those Pirates pitchers will get the chance in the game, but it’s safe to say at least one will be at LECOM Park.

“It’s kind of a glorified backfield game, which is cool,” Chandler said. “If I get picked, that’s cool. If I don’t get picked, I’m still going to watch it.”