Paul Skenes is one of the most intriguing MLB Draft prospects in recent memory. Standing at 6’6′ and 235 pounds, the LSU right-handed pitcher sits at 97-98 MPH with his fastball but has reached triple-digits. Skenes also has full-field power at the plate but hasn’t been a two-way player this season as his pitching stock has risen immensely. His draft hype is similar to that of Stephen Strasburg‘s coming out of college. For Skenes’ sake, hopefully he can stay healthier than Strasburg.
Skenes just turned 21 this past week so he’s still young. His rise through the minor leagues could be meteoric if all goes to plan. Here is a look at the imposing 6’6″ right hander out of LSU.
Paul Skenes Draft Profile
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 80 | Slider: 70 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 65
Skenes has one of the more impressive college fastballs in recent memory. With his large frame, the 98 MPH heat gets on hitters in a hurry. The angle it comes from makes it even more deceptive and, in all reality, could play against major league hitting right away. He’s got a really sound and repeatable delivery that keeps his mechanics in check.
Skenes originally went to Air Force for two seasons before heading to Baton Rouge and combining with Dylan Crews to form the LSU-duo that could go 1-2 at the top of the draft. Skenes went 11-2 and in the regular season with a 1.90 ERA across 16 starts for LSU. The right-hander posted two complete games and had a whopping 179 strikeouts to just 17 free passes this past season.
It is hard to call a changeup that sits 88-93 MPH a “weakness”. However, he hasn’t exactly refined the pitch to where he can throw it for a strike on command. The speed and late breaking movement could totally play. He’ll have to try and refine the location of the pitch to get the swings and misses he’ll desire against major league hitters.
LSU pitching coach Wes Johnson has been a big help in helping Skenes’ stuff get better. Johnson spent a few seasons as the Minnesota Twins’ pitching coach. He’d been huge in getting the best results out of Twins’ pitchers but left for LSU and got a pay raise too. Working with a guy that coached major leagues, and did so at a high level, certainly is going to help Skenes in the long run.
MLB Player Comparison
In terms of hype, I think Strasburg is the best comparison for Skenes. However, if you look back to the year prior to Strasburg, 2008 first-overall pick Gerrit Cole is a good comp for Skenes as well.
Cole stands at 6’4″ and 220 pounds. He’s a tad smaller than Skenes but they both possess incredibly hard fastballs and good off-speed pitches. Cole wasn’t a completely polished product coming out of UCLA, however he did have the tools and the fastball that could pitch against major league hitters right out of college.
Skenes certainly profiles as a guy that will be a top-of-the-rotation type guy for a team within the next three years. If his breaking stuff progresses like it can, maybe sooner for a club willing to be more aggressive.
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