Just like he made the adjustment to superior competition when transferring from mid-major Air Force to LSU, Paul Skenes appears to be doing the same at Double-A. In his second start since his promotion from Single-A, MLB’s No. 3 prospect threw two innings for Altoona, allowing only one hit while striking out three against Erie.
Skenes, baseball’s top pitching prospect, picked up where he left off after an outstanding final college season that saw him win Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 Men’s College World Series. In his first three professional outings (one with the rookie-level FCL Pirates and two with the Single-A Bradenton Marauders), he recorded five strikeouts over four innings while only allowing one hit. In his final Single-A performance, he flaunted his command with 19 of his 28 pitches going for strikes.
That’s why a rocky Double-A debut came as something of a surprise. Skenes gave up four runs on three hits -- and two walks -- in just 2/3 of an inning last Saturday. Only 16 of his 33 pitches were strikes.
“A bad outing is just a bad outing,” said Skenes last week. “It's just baseball. Obviously, I want to go out there and win and pitch as best as I can every outing, and I'm going to do everything to prepare to do that for every outing. But, it is baseball. The beautiful thing is it's never as bad as it seems, and it's never as good as it seems."
It would appear as though he embraced that philosophy in a bounce-back performance, needing only 25 pitches to make it through two frames at UPMC Park. In his return to form, 18 of those were strikes.
In a sport that’s all about adjustments, Skenes has had to make quite a few in the past 12 months -- from Air Force to LSU to Florida to Altoona -- and he appears to be taking this latest change in stride.