Pirates Roundtable: What is the argument for Paul Skenes first overall?

Over the last week, we’ve been conducting a lengthy Roundtable to discuss the Pittsburgh Pirates’ number one overall pick in the upcoming MLB draft. This Roundtable was more true to the name, and different than previous versions we’ve done. The lineup was as follows:

Tim Williams – Moderator
John Dreker – Site Draft Expert
Anthony Murphy – System Depth View
Wilbur Miller – System Needs View
Jeff Reed – Resident Fan Expert

Yesterday, we posted part one of this discussion, as we looked at LSU outfielder Dylan Crews. Today, we look at his teammate, right-handed pitcher Paul Skenes.

TIM WILLIAMS: John, what is the argument for Paul Skenes first overall?

JOHN DREKER: Skenes has recently been put in the company of the best college pitchers going into the draft in recent memory, up there with names like Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole and David Price. He has the velocity, the pitch-mix, the big frame and the control you can dream on from a starter. There are people who believe he could go right to the majors and help out the Pirates this year. If you trust those scouts, then you’re getting an ace on the cusp of the majors. He certainly had the stats to back it up, while seeing some terrific teams after the typical early season layups. I don’t think the Pirates would put him in the majors right away, mostly due to his inning total this year already being 37 innings over last year, which was a huge jump over his 2021 total, when he saw very limited work. You’re not going to grab a potential ace, the push him to his limits at 21 years old. However, the Pirates will definitely have rotation spots available next year, so he could be in Pittsburgh by mid-season, less than a full year after being drafted.

TIM: Anthony, where would Skenes rank in the system, assuming he would stay in the minors long enough?

ANTHONY MURPHY: The Pirates have a lot of intriguing arms in the system, but all of them probably translate more towards being middle of the rotation type pitchers. Which is fine, as we’ve seen this year you can never have enough pitching. Skenes, however, would immediately elevate to the top as the best of the bunch, as he’s a potential front line starter.

Due to his already incredibly high ceiling, and upside for more, Skenes easily falls in as not only the best pitching prospect, but probably overall in the Pirates system.

TIM: Wilbur, what is a realistic timeline for Skenes to reach the majors, and when might he realistically reach the best in the system status Anthony mentioned?

WILBUR MILLER: Skenes’ timeline for reaching the majors, like Crews’, would be heavily influenced by one major caveat. He’d be subject to a front office that’s been cautious in promoting prospects and that allows financial considerations to drive baseball decisions. Skenes’ situation is a little different, though, since he’s a pitcher. He’ll be coming off his college workload, followed by a layoff for negotiations. Add to that, the Pirates’ pitching draftees under this regime have pitched very sparingly after signing. In fact, most haven’t pitched at all until the next year. And then there’s “super two,” so the earliest realistic arrival date for Skenes is mid-2024.

As for becoming the best in the system, that should be immediate. The most similar pitchers to Skenes in the system, ceiling-wise, are Jared Jones and Bubba Chandler. Both were drafted out of high school and came with questions about their command. Jones right now is answering those questions, while Chandler isn’t. Skenes doesn’t come with those questions and his stuff is probably a step up from theirs, too.

TIM: Jeff, you said they should go big with Crews. It seems this draft gives them the chance to go big with a generational hitter or pitcher. How much should their system need for pitching factor into the decision?

JEFF REED: I think there is a couple different ways to look at it from the perspective of the Pirates.

For starters (pun intended), there is the obvious caveat of a team can never have enough pitching. With the way their farm system is trending, they appear to be developing pitching at better rate than hitters. One could then say they should go Skenes as that is seeming to be their bread and butter, while at the same time they have a handful of post first round pitchers excelling. If you look at the draft pool, there is a very strong group of pitchers — especially prep pitchers — that could be had with their selections after day one.

Teams generally don’t, or shouldn’t, draft for need. With that said, I believe it would behoove the organization to bring in a hitter that is as polished as possible. We’re seeing it with Henry Davis now, where his bat looks as good as advertised. Only thing the Pirates needed to do was keep him healthy.

Truth be told, the Pirates development is still at a point where we can’t be too confident. We’re only just seeing their upper echelon prospects crack the majors. But judging by the the improvement of Jared Jones, Anthony Solometo, and even MLB Futures Game attendee JP Massey, I feel they should draft the best hitter. Acquisition of more hitters down the road will likely come from using pitcher overflow in trades.

Check back tomorrow morning at PiratesProspects.com for part three, as we look at the alternatives to Dylan Crews and Paul Skenes.

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It’s not often a pitcher catches my attention like Emmett Sheehan last night for the Dodgers. From his first pitch to Cutch, he had the WOW factor. That kid has a superb arm, throwing rising fastballs like Nolan Ryan. Loved his delivery, loved his arm, everything. Sort of reminded me of the first time I saw Strider. Then I learn he came up straight from AA. And threw six no-hit innings in his debut a couple weeks ago! But as the second and third inning came, you could now see the kid is still lacking command. He had a lot of wildness, walking four, and a lot of his pitches weren’t even close. But he’s in the bigs, and he’s going to be a force to reckon with.

So my takeaway is that Skenes has everything and more than Sheehan.
He’s got 3 – 4 mph on his FB and he’s got better secondary pitches ALREADY! And most of all, he’s got the command that Sheehan lost last night. So I agree with the Round Table that he’ll be up in June ’24 without a doubt. Doesn’t matter which team takes him, he’s TOR. Fingers crossed it’s the Buccos.


Not to mention he holds his velocity and command for at least 120 pitches. That’s the big difference for me when comparing him to Cole. Cole’s command and velocity would come and go in game and from start to start when he was at Ucla. I do think Cole had slightly better secondary pitches.


This is a fun dilemma. I usually prefer the college bat over a pitcher due to the injury risk every pitcher faces. The big question is ultimately where do the Pirates see Davis playing? If they now see him as an outfielder, then our outfield is set for years to come. Endy will be the starting catcher and you can always grab a Hedges type to be the backup. DH can be filled by a veteran guy on the cheap so Skenes might make more sense. As long as it is 1 of Skenes, Crews or Langford I will be happy. If it’s one of the HS kids i think my head will explode.


i’m willing to do the work to hype myself up for Jenkins, but i just have no time for Max Clark or anyone with sub-50 power at 1.1.

find the next kevin kiermaier in rd 2.

Last edited 2 months ago by jaygray007

Let’s just say Skenes and Crews are exactly what is advertised in all the hype: Quick to the majors in an impact way.

Let’s look at the situation through the lens of what the Pirates’ MLB team look like when they get here.

What does a batting order look like with Cutch, Davis, Hayes, Endy, Reynolds, Cruz, Nick th’ Stick & Wazowski when you add Crews? That’s quite a lot of fun on a nightly basis.

What does the team with Endy and Davis behind the plate with Skenes as a sure-fire stopper on the mound. Anyone remember playoffs where you had one shot and ran into a MadBum or the guy from the Cubs that year who was untouchable?

It is coming at the team equation from two different perspectives, isn’t it?

Me? Thanks for asking? I want an old Lumber Company 2.0. Bring back Murtaugh’s Bucs, man. When you can score four or more runs a night, you’ll be there. Imagine that batting order up above long term.

If they sit Tank Davis beside Crews, do we have the same kind of no doubt stick? If so, ya gots ta swing for the fences, maties!



I was at both of those playoff games…..I want the stopper.


With you there Wabbit. Was it Jake Arrieta that mowed them down that year?


yes. beardy guy. so there is no arguing a stopper isn’t valuable.


For sure. I will be happy with either pick. Madbum game was tough to watch. The slam by Crawford is when I decided to focus on drinking more beer. Made the game less brutal.


Take a good look at the Pirates SP rotation and try to tell me pitching isn’t their biggest need.


You have this right, Joe.

I feel like pitching is behind hitting here and giving Keller someone to backstop him would be a nice gift on the Monongehela.

I think I still fall on the Crews side of it if he is the sure stick they are saying.

Henry Davis sure looks like bank now given he was taken out of order and under slot. If they had two of those… Oh my.


Hank Davis beat Leiter to MLB by a good bit. Everyone, including me, that thought Leiter was gonna be the choice and the best pitching prospect available was wrong. And I wanted one of the Prep SS(Mayer or Lawlar) and I’m glad they took Davis.

Example 1,000 on why you take Crews everyday of week and twice on Sundays!!

The only other choice I could even fathom would be Langford with a huge discount.

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

I’ll pick on your broader assumption not your ‘1000 reason’ comment.

It is fun to grade highly and be happy with Hank. Let’s all be real, 3 years from now Leiter could still be the best of the lot(and maybe we regret passing on him because we need an ace), 10 years from now it may be Mayer or somebody else. 20 years in hind site Hank may be the only one headed to the HOF. NOBODY is right or wrong yet unless you placed a bet in Vegas that Hank would beat Leiter to the majors. Drawing conclusions on what to do in this draft based on a draft where most players are still in the minors is just silly.


Yep, basing decisions on history is silly.


And when the lessons from the 2021 draft are actually usable history I am sure they will be used.


ESPN Kiley McDaniel dropped another draft prospect ranking and now has Langford at 1 followed by Crews and Skenes. Still basically saying a coin flip. The reasoning (my translation) is Langford is still developing and took big steps in last few years and thoughts on Skenes is just one year of dominance and given a coin flip he would always put a pitcher slightly below a hitter. I’ll admit I keep ‘ignoring’ Langford some probably without cause.


A few other notes (and it is and ESPN Insider article and I like to respect pay sites).

1) The top 3 are all categorized in the 60 FV tier, but the 2 high school players ‘only’ in the 55, so Kiley differentiates clearly between the college and high school players at the top.

2) There are NO 50 tier players, highlighting the top 5 aspect of this draft.


glad to finally see Langford get some play here. his bat truly seems to be a hair louder than Crews’.

some professional fielding instruction could very well make Langford the premier prospect a yr from now.

Longenhagen actually gives Langford the better power and speed grade. he’s just currently bad at fielding despite the better speed.


Can’t help but think about Jack Suwinski when reading takes on Langford’s defensive flaws.


you just mean in terms of that Suwinski was a future DH in some reports such as fangraphs and here we are and he’s a fine-enough CF? and that you think that Langford will probably improve?

because i’ve definitely had that thought as well.


Exactly that.

Not sure I understand why Langford’s defense is discussed in the context of being a flaw and not a significant avenue for upside.

I can appreciate the value of defense as a present tool for Crews, but not so much as necessarily a demerit for Langford.

We’re also tacitly accepting that we really don’t give af about defense in the middle-range of outcomes, really across the league. Super super good defenders and unplayably bad ones aside, nobody really cares if you’re +/- a handful of runs. Just effin hit.


Just mash, baby.


yeah this is where i am with him. given equal bonuses, maybe i still go crews. but if there’s any significant savings to be had on langford at all, i think i’m popping him and viewing that defense as a huge lever they can pull.

get that defense to a 45 and suddenly his tool package is equal to crews, if not better. and if it never pops to 45, then at least you got the draft savings.

it’d be different if langford was a slow runner: it’d be harder to see the defense getting better. but he’s fast!

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I think Langford also isn’t given the benefit of the doubt cause he didn’t play center this year. Which isn’t a fault of his, rather than Florida just happened to also have a very very solid defensive CF. Crews wasn’t the starting CF till this year. He was usually in a corner previously, cause LSU had very gifted defensive OFs


I think I watched all of the LSU game highlights this year & have been wrestling with this question for months. As said b4, as long as it’s Skenes or Crews I’ll be happy.

In Crews, you’re getting a day in, day out performer, as evidenced by the fact he reached base in all 71 games this season, which is incredible. But he’s also the guy that leads by example & other players gravitate towards, kinda like Sid Crosby. Those 2 traits make it hard to pass on a player like that.

However, I know that I’m breaking the #1 draft rule by saying this, but with such a coin flip on the best available talent, Skenes makes more sense due to the current players in the system. Reynolds is locking up an OF position for the next several years. If you lock Crews into CF long term too, then you’re really hamstringing yourself with one more available OF position, which Davis is holding.

Crews did play well in CF this year, but with OFers, I tend to think back at Corey Dickerson, who the Bucs gave up basically nothing to acquire – OF performers are just easier to acquire than elite pitching, which Skenes definitely is.

One final example is Ohtani K’ing Trout to win the WBC – elite pitching neutralizing elite hitting, so my pick is Skenes.


I agree with you here. I doubt they would just sit Suwinski at this point and we already have a high exit velo ground ball hitter in Hayes.


sit? No, they’d trade him. Easy way to get a pretty decent pitcher back with the amount of controllable years and that lefty power. You could probably get a solid #2 back for Suwinski for god sake his OPS is .850 and thats considering he’s playing against a LOT of leftys


Or you could look at as the level of difference between Crews & Suwinski or the difference between Skenes & Rich Hill or Priester. Which makes the team better.
Skenes hands down


Not really. You look at what Suwinski’s VALUE is as far as what you can get back. Or the difference with Davis versus…..Joe Schmo playing first. There is exactly no situation where drafting Crews puts Suwinski in the bench, other than against lefties so this hypothetical is downright idiotic.


They’ve shown no desire for Davis @ 1B, besides there’s a better then 50/50 chance that O’Neil Cruz will have to find a new home, especially now. With everyone healthy, the need for Skenes is 5X what it is for Crews & to deny it is what is idiotic


Just out of argument sake, what’s everyone’s opinion on Skenes trying to hit as well in pro ball?

I watched several of his at bats yesterday out of curiosity. I really like his swing, very short to the ball for his size. He has light tower power to all fields. I know the likelihood of him doing both at the major league level is unlikely but not impossible.


Another guy hurt by the universal DH.

Could add legitimate value with the bat in an era where pitchers hit, but the bar for competency as a DH is now almost impossibly high.

Combine the fact that he’s so advanced on the mound that he should spend little time in the minors and he has no practical chance of developing anything close to a viable big league hit tool hit tool.


Unless they keep Hedges🤣, then he could catch Skenes & they can DH for Hedges


Kiley thinks he could be developed into an interesting pinch hitter option for extra innings. Minimal impact, but something.


I had that thought as well.


I wouldn’t mind if they took Skenes and then Caden Grice at 42. I think Grice with a small mechanical change his hit tool would improve dramatically. He currently has a naturally long bat path, if he could get shorter to the ball with his power look out. I would try to change his hand position on his stance to closer to his body so he doesn’t have such a deep load that forces the bat path to be long. The length becomes his biggest weakness in my opinion. If he’s shorter to the ball his power should still play and contact rate should improve.


Big picture I am against it despite Ohtani’s success if for no other reason than injury. However, if the Pirates were truly legitimate contenders while using the current catching roster then I think keeping him sharp enough to occasionally pitch hit could be useful. It is the 5th inning, Hedges is up with 2 outs bases full. We have 2 other catchers so we can pinch hit but don’t want to burn a bench player. Enter Skenes to pinch hit on his off day. However, this scenario is extremely unlikely to occur, but using him as an occasional pinch hitter I could see being an option.


I was thinking on similar lines, we really don’t have a pinch hitter that strikes fear in opposing pitchers. Injury risk is why I’d be hesitant as well.
I do think if he’s the pick, that this year would be a great opportunity to see what kinda of bat he has. He should be on a very limited pitch count if he even pitches and could DH or pinch hit just to see the kind of aptitude he has. (Injury still the big risk factor)


How many DH’s in history get hurt (under age 30) by hitting and running the bases? There is no real significant chance of a strong athlete that knows how to run the bases missing any significant time.


Well pitchers in the low minors don’t always have the best control, sometimes they can throw the ball pretty fucking fast. There’s these body parts people have when hit with objects traveling at high speeds tend to get hurt or even break when being hit. I know it never happens (Davis) and I’m foolish for not seeing there’s no significant risk envoled.

Last edited 2 months ago by melkel

I’m probably missing something but I do sort of wonder if Crews is the type of hitter that while very good, comes around every 3-5 years whereas Skenes is the type of pitcher that comes around every 10-15 years.

Crews #s are excellent but was his senior year that much better than someone like Henry Davis? I don’t remember Davis being characterized as a generational hitter such as Bryce Harper.

I guess Davis had slightly lower OPS but better K rate.

And obviously Crews has produced for multiple years.


I think they’re both being inflated, fwiw.


I do to as well, a lesser extent to Skenes as a pitcher though. I do feel they are the clear cut top prospects in the draft with the other 3 right behind them.


In theory all 5 at the top IMO are probably somewhat inflated. I think whether NFL/NBA/MLB draft time, the positive aspects of the top prospects get everybody excited. I do trust the ‘experts’ that this is an unusual draft in the depth at the top (all 5 MAY have gone 1-1 in several years). But the reality is there are still a LOT of top of the draft – look like can’t misses – that miss. And I am not sure whether it is always fair in hind site to blame the teams with the misses because if it was that obvious, the players would never have been considered by many teams for that high of a draft slot. We just REALLY REALLY need for the Pirates to hit on this one. Even if our 1-1 ends up being the second best and very very good., that is a W.


Great point. A few weeks ago I posted something about legendary drafts as it relates to 2023, and I cited 2011 (Cole draft) as every first rounder made the majors, AS games all over the place. But it had busts too! Hultzen, the last player to make the majors, was considered an ultra quick to the majors safe college arm. Turns out he wasn’t so quick to the majors (took him 8 years, bless him). Bubba Starling was a phenomenal athlete, huge football recruit, considered a huge CF prospect. He made it to the majors for parts of two seasons.

Both of these guys were picked in the top 5. Shit happens.


Damn you Bubba. For some reason I was always pulling for that guy. I’d check in on him over the years but slowly faded from my mind. Until now. Wonder if he regrets not going to play football?


Spot on and Hultzen is a great example. Seemed like the safe / perfect draft pick for a team looking for dependable (#2 or 3 starter) and quick help.


You understood just about every bit of my thought behind the comment, right on man!


You sound just like my wife…. well… that one time in 2007.


She was drunk.


Interesting. Who do you like at #1 ?

Part of me wonders if Langford will be best player in the class.

I probably have drank too much of the Skenes koolaid but I do wonder if he could become dominant quickly sort of like Nola or Cole?


Langford or Skenes; more confident in the former, more excited for the latter. *shrugs*

I just don’t buy the whole “this is what it looks like when an MLB ace pitches against college hitters” stuff. MLB pitchers are impossibly filthy. Skenes is a phenomenal talent, but these dudes are separated by such a razor’s edge that I don’t think the across-the-board prospect hype in this era is nearly warranted.


I’m with you at this point. My thoughts exactly.


FWIW: I have this suspicion that Langford will be a better MLB player than Crews. I hope no one in the division (or the NL) drafts Langford.


just some further overthinking on the subject.

if this was a OOTP universe and i was running the team, i’d stick to the old Cubs strategy from their good years – draft the bats, buy the pitchers.

i’d go Crews or Langford, and then spend money (or trade for) on Keller’s playoff partners. 2 of Giolito, Urias, Snell, whatever. Aim a little higher, aim a little lower, whatever.

but this isn’t OOTP. it’s just impossible to see this team spending real money on real playoff-quality veteran pitching. in the real life “being a pirate fan is painful” sense, i dont see any way that skenes doesnt have to be the pick here. not to mention, if you just watch him, he’s just “what they look like”


Problem is Pirates can’t afford to ‘buy the pitchers’ they can only draft them. SKENES all day, Don’t tell me about High school arms that will reach the MLB in 5-6 years past the Pirates window for winning. No good then.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

See, that’s funny considering they have the equivalent of a College Junior currently in Triple-A, and a College Sophomore in Double-A on the precipice of Triple-A. But, go ahead.


i’m sure this article is coming, but i really think the discussion needs to be had:

What kind of player do we see Dylan Crews becoming?

based on the scouting grades – solid “hit”, good but non-elite power, some CF but probably eventual corner guy – he feels much more like a bryan reynolds clone than a bryce harper clone.

which, if you get a bryan reynolds clone at #1 , thats a fine outcome – Reynolds is good.

but i think we all need to wrap our heads around what kind of player Crews actually is. the scouting grades just arent particularly elite. he just spells “sure thing to be very good” to me, as opposed to “shot at being elite” good.

Crews isnt a generational talent, and skenes probably isn’t either.

Im happy with Crews Skenes and Langford.


A player comp for me that keeps sticking with Crews is George Springer.


oo i like it.

obviously if you get springer’s career out of the 1.1, youre happy with it.

any good ones for langford? thinkin a little louder bat with more questionable defense.

i think this is a useful exercise! it’s important to actually label expectations.

a lot of the conversation elsewhere simply calls Crews and Skenes “generational” and stops there.


Initially I think I actually saw Springer to Langford. But then I thought, Springer was passable in center (like Crews) while at this moment, Langford looks like a corner OF from day 1. With Houston, Springer averaged about 4.5 wins per 600 plate appearances. I’d sign up for that from Crews (or freaking anyone).

Langford is tougher. Loud bat, questionable D, but good speed. Kris Bryant lite before the injuries set in? Randy A from Tampa Bay seems like a better one.

Last edited 2 months ago by ArkyWags

Read my mind this morning, brother. And same goes for Skenes.


Anyone who saw Skenes pitch this year knows the arguments for him and no way I would disagree with any of them. He passes the eye test with flying colors but there arguments that, while not against him per se, strongly suggest caution.

Several potential concerns were pointed out by CBSsports recently.

Probably the biggest issue related not just to Skenes but to pitchers in general.

“the acronym “TINSTAAPP.” It stands for “There Is No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect.” While blanket declarations are often a bad idea, the point of TINSTAAPP is to remind folks of the differences in risk profiles between pitchers and hitters. The former group is far more likely than the latter to get injured and/or underperform than the latter. That doesn’t mean pitchers are without value, but it does mean that in situations where all else is equal, it’s usually wiser to take the hitter and find pitching elsewhere.”

As for the idea of the Pirates again taking the portfolio approach this year as they did in 2021 even if there’s no reliable information suggesting Skenes would be willing to take less if drafted #1 .

“In a vacuum, independent of these specific players and their specific asks, we’re inclined to believe that you should prioritize getting things right upfront when you have the No. 1 pick and then figuring out the rest of the draft later.”

And a Skenes specific concern held by at least some.

“We’d be remiss if we ignored that evaluators have some concerns about Skenes’ game. The biggest entails the shape of his high-velocity four-seam fastball.” The article provided further details.

And finally.

“There’s a reason those inside the industry who spoke to CBS Sports unanimously preferred Crews as the top player in this class, however, and it wasn’t because they were ignorant or otherwise unaware of Skenes’ game. They simply liked Crews more, and felt more confident in his chances of becoming a high-quality contributor.”

Skenes might become a great MLB pitcher but there are several caution, if not exactly red, flags that should not be ignored especially this year when a player like Crews is sitting there for the taking.

The Pirates have to get this one right because another opportunity like this one will not come along again.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I’ve heard a couple places bring up/mention the shape of his fastball, and that itself is one reason I do partially worry when it comes to Skenes.

Full disclosure, I don’t have numbers and this is 100% conjecture, but watching some of our current starters with fastball shape issues struggle at the major league level (Ortiz/Oviedo/etc.) even with high velocity, it gives me pause. For one, would the Pirates pick Skenes cause they seem to like his type? Would they be able to truly refine his pitches so he doesn’t become a Ortiz/Oviedo type? Is Skenes a case of his raw stuff was just so far ahead of a typical college pitcher, that is what mainly got him by? He doesn’t appear to have command/control issues, but again, is that cause he could just throw plus stuff in the vicinity of the plate knowing your average college hitter isn’t touching it. What happens when he gets to a level with professional hitters that’ll spit on 102. Jhoan Duran had probably some of the nastiest stuff in the minors, hits 105 with an absolutely ridiculous splinker (yes, a splinker), and he’s a closer now. Watching Skenes against a team like Tulane was just comical. They’re probably lucky to see a kid throwing mid/high 90’s around the plate, let alone a kid pumping 102 middle-middle even at 120+ pitches into a game.


Devils advocate on the idea of taking the hitter over a pitcher since the pitcher is more likely to be injured or fall short of expectations….you can also use that same line of thinking to say you NEED to take more pitchers since many don’t work out.

Curiously watching the Angels 2021 draft class when they went pitcher for every pick. And by watching I mean, hopefully someone does a lookback on that approach so I can read it lol


guy who cites CBS Sports as his source.


I prefer bleacher report

Wilbur Miller

IMO, the “cheapness” issue is less straightforward than just how much gets spent. Obviously, that’s not in question with the Pirates’ drafting. They’re handed a set spending limit and they always spend it, including most or all of the extra 5% that they can spend by paying a tax.

The Pirates’ version of “cheapness” has always seemed to me to be a much broader issue, having to do with an extreme conservatism in how the team is run. This really came out under Huntington.

There’s always been a reluctance to make bold moves with the roster, which is why they’ve never been able to emulate Tampa. There’s the constant impulse to fall back on cheap, “safe” veterans. (Compare what Christian Bethancourt is doing this year, while handling one of MLB’s best pitching staffs, to Austin Hedges.) There was NH’s obsession with years of control, as he tried to get the roster and payroll set in stone for years in advance.

And there was always a strong resistance to making a big commitment (“big” being contextual) to one guy. NH always said he didn’t want to have more than a certain % of the payroll committed to one guy. In the international area, that resistance surfaced in the form of NH’s “spread it around” strategy, which predictably failed.

So now we have the draft version of “spread it around,” and if it’s adopted as an ironclad rule, it’ll fail, too. They can’t be afraid of spending 1-1 slot money on one guy just because it looks like a lot. These are the guys you win with.


I agree and I think that is what I meant to say or did say in one of the first posts to this article. They spend in the draft and have done so consistently. In no way did I imply they spend freely elsewhere or nearly as much as they should.


I totally agree with this, especially the very frustrating and longstanding “spread it around” mentality, BUT what about this scenario:
*Crews & Skenes are very close on the Pirates draft board, which would be reasonable.
*Crews doesnt’ want to accept less than slot because (1) why should he? And (2) Nats have signaled they could go slot at $9.7.
*Skenes’ agents, same as Davis who thank God isnt being milked in our minor league system until he hits his prime ages 25-27, signal he would sign for $9 flat to be first overall
*The $700k savings, not having to deal with Boras, and the fact that you had him as a jumpball pick 1-1 anyway: aren’t they all tiebreakers for Skenes without being “cheap”?


Conspiracy theory: The Pirates called up Davis to get in the good graces of his agents for signing Skenes to an under slot deal.


Extending this, what if Langford agrees to sign for $8M or even a little under? That would be between slot 3 and 4 money. We spend the excess on a bunch of arms with high upside? I’m okay of we do that. I’m not all-in on a specific player at #1 unless we’re talking Ken Griffey Jr type talent.

Last edited 2 months ago by john_fluharty

I agree and have posted similar thinking. If they consider several players very close on their board for 1-1 then not looking at $ is just bad business. If they feel either one is a clear 1-1, then go make it happen.


I’ll be happy with either or of Skenes or Crews, just personally like Skenes better. If they bypass them this year because they want to spread around the draft pool it’s a mistake. Both players have star potential and both could help make the pirates legitimate contenders as soon as 2025.


Let’s face it: on Sunday we are going to draft a Gerrit Cole comp or Freddie Freeman comp (Callis). Sounds like win-win to me.

Pirate fans -self included- feel we are cursed and we are always the victim. Yet we ended up with 1-1 despite a 83.5% chance we shouldn’t or wouldn’t. How would we like to be Oakland at #6 with same exact record we had last year.

Sunday at 7pm EST will be a glorious day in the history of our great franchise 💪🍾👊

b mcferren

we almost took Rendon that year


Skenes could be a once in a generation type pitcher. Someone other teams hate to face. A legitimate TOR SP who can give us an advantage against any other lineup. Against any other SP.

To me, this is too good of an opportunity to pass up.



Plus by taking Skenes, every other pitcher moves down the rotation and gets better by comparison..


How I feel as well, I’d still be happy with Crews but I don’t see another opportunity to get a starting pitcher like Skenes to just fall in our lap.


Your comment sparked this realization—4 of the 5 teams drafting in the top five will get an elite OF prospect; only one gets an elite pitching prospect.


There will be a high ceiling high school outfielder at pick 42 as well. They won’t be as elite as the top guys but they’ll be several to pick from if we can afford them.
Not saying that would be my choice but they’ll be there. There won’t be any pitcher close to Skenes as far as floor and they’ll have to have tremendous development to approach his ceiling.

Last edited 2 months ago by melkel

Any prep bats you find intriguing at 42? I have a few prep arms I like but not much knowledge of the bats


Again I’m not listing ones ranked higher than pick 42 but I’m sure some will drop. Aidan Smith, Caden Sorrel, Eric Bitoni, Nazzan Zanetello, Tai Peete, and Brandon Winokur. I would draft only college guys through round 10. I’d try to save some money for round 11 and 12 on high schoolers this year. The college hitters are so deep as is the high school hitters, I think you could get better quality just waiting on the high schoolers and get the college guys early.


Definitely appreciate your insight. Now I’m gonna have to go look up all those names lol…. If we pick Skenes st 1, then I’d like them to take a bat at 42, if we take a bat at 1 I’d like a pitcher at 42


I normally would as well, really depends on who’s available and their draft boards.


The player I really want at 42 if he’s still there is Kemp Alderman. I think he’ll be gone but I’m holding out hope lol. His stat line at Ole Miss
376/440/709 1.149 K’s 41 BB’s 26 HR’s 19 reminds me of Davis
There’s several high schoolers I like but a few will be gone or too expensive most likely. I’ll think on it and list them in a bit.

Last edited 2 months ago by melkel

One thing with prep pitchers that intrigues me for comp and 2/3 round picks are cold weather arms. Specifically some of the guys mentioned on Kiley’s list today (Josh Knoth, Steven Echavarria, Alex Clemmey Blake Wolters to name a few). I have no details besides what’s on that list, but I have to think these guys have as much ceiling as most other well-known warm weather prep arms and less on the odometer.

Prep OF in that 32-52 range: Dillon Head, Drew Burress, Kendall George. Head and George are burners. Burress is 5’9 but has a well rounded skill set.

Bonus player I want on name alone: LuJames Groover.

Last edited 2 months ago by ArkyWags

100% agree.

b mcferren

despite the recent high innings count, is there anything to the health of his arm in relation to him being a catcher until somewhat recently?


If his medicals are good I wouldn’t worry, kid is just built different. The reason I flipped is 5 fold
Command, stuff, endurance, size, and character or makeup. You could throw in his dominant performances but that’s just a by product of the 5 qualities mentioned.


I wouldn’t bank on his risk of injury being reduced, as I’m sure he pitched a ton as a teenager.


My understanding is he did not pitch until Senior year of HS. He played catcher and OF.


Yeah, I saw that after I posted my comment. I just find it hard to believe with an arm like that he wasn’t asked to pitch from an early age. This makes him an even more appealing choice.

b mcferren

his arm slot does not look too awkward


I’m no scout so I won’t pretend to have any expertise on his mechanics, but he meets my eye test.


The only reasons the Pirates draft anyone not named Crews with the #1 overall pick is either they are too cheap or afraid of not being able to sign him. There are zero legitimate baseball reasons to not select Crews although the apologists are already out in force due to the distinct possibility the Pirates do the unthinkable.

Last edited 2 months ago by redwards60

A return of the apologists, yes! Daquido Bazzini is that you?

Last edited 2 months ago by NMR

The same could be said by just changing the name Crews to Skenes, which in turn makes your post obtuse.


Love the use of the word obtuse. Haven’t heard that since Shawshank Redemption.



Lol too cheap. We’re talking about the team that “forced” MLB to change the draft rules because they were spending “too much” on the draft. The team that routinely spends over what MLB allows them to spend on the draft (and routinely gets fined for it). Do better.


Of all the takes, this is one of them


Why do you mean of all the takes? That’s his usual take, so it is his only take….


I suppose there are other takes out there if one was open to them lol


‘too cheap’ – they have ALWAYS spent their money in the draft and under Nutting (shocking I know) they ‘broke’ the draft investing in Josh Bell. They are cheap in MANY ways but not draft time. Cheap is too easy of a narrative.

Apologists? Crews vs. Skenes, as these two roundtables show is not a no-brainer. Both have REAL reasons to be desired as 1-1. It is a GOOD problem to have. Not sure how drafting Skenes would be the unthinkable.

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