With the first pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Paul Skenes, a flamethrowing righty out of Louisiana State University.

The Pirates and Skenes have reportedly already agreed to a $9.25-million bonus, according to Joe Doyle. The slot value for the first overall pick this year is $9,721,000, meaning the Pirates save roughly $471,000 to potentially be used on later draft selections.

Former first overall pick and Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. announced the selection with the Seattle Mariners hosting the event:


The ace right-hander is mere weeks removed from helping propel LSU to a College World Series championship and winning Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

After spending his first two college seasons at Air Force, Skenes transferred to Baton Rouge for his platform junior year. The move paid immediate dividends, as the 21-year-old is considered the top college pitching prospect since Stephen Strasburg.

While Skenes is drafted as a pitcher, he was also the top two-way player in this year’s class and was the only Division I player to hit double digits (13) in homers as a hitter and wins as a pitcher (10) last year. He’ll stick to developing on the mound after leading the SEC in strikeouts (179), K/9 (16.2), and WHIP (0.79) over 99 1/3 innings.

He has an elite repertoire, headlined by the best fastball in the class, which hits over 100 mph even while working deep into games:


Age: 21
Position: RHP
Height/Weight: 6-6, 235 lbs
Bats/Throws: R/R
School: LSU
Pick value (#1): $9,721,000


  • Elite fastball that averages 98 mph, hits 102 mph
  • Mixes in power changeup and above-average slider
  • Extremely athletic with two-way abilities
  • Played catcher with Air Force but is considered too large for the position; could work on DHing
  • Would’ve likely gone in the first three rounds as a position player too

Why fans will love this player

  • Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series
  • Easily projects as a frontline starter
  • 10.5 strikeouts per walk
  • SEC Pitcher of the Year
  • Comparable to Strasburg as a polished college ace
  • Did we mention he can hit 102 mph?

Things he’ll need to overcome

  • In the pros, will have to rely more on his secondary stuff, which needs refinement – particularly commanding the changeup in the zone
  • If he chooses to be two-way, either as a DH or first baseman, his development will take longer

Take a look …

(Video source: MLB Pipeline)

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