LSU has been a force in the 2023 NCAA season thus far, thanks to a deep lineup and an incredible pitching staff. Starter Paul Skenes has been a key piece of LSU’s success, and his gaudy start may just be pushing him towards the top of the pack in the 2023 MLB Draft class.
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A Look at Skenes
It’s rather incredible to see what LSU right-hander Paul Skenes has done thus far in the 2023 season. On March 4, Skenes made his start of the season against Butler down in Baton Rouge. The right-hander had himself yet another strong outing, as he struck out 13 batters over six scoreless frames.
In that start, Skenes demonstrated exactly why he entered the year as one of the most highly-touted collegiate arms in this year’s draft. The LSU started the game by hitting 101 MPH with his fastball, blowing away hitters with that pitch in the zone. But on top of that pitch, he also made use of a devastating slider that sat in the 86-88 MPH range.
Through three starts, Skenes struck out 36 batters over 18 innings and posted a ridiculous .50 ERA. The 2023 campaign is Skenes’ first — and probably last — season in Baton Rouge. The 20-year-old spent the first two years of his college career at Air Force as a two-way player. While Skenes did record back-to-back double digit home run campaigns at Air Force, it’s rather obvious at this point that his future is as a pitcher.
It’s still early, but it’s hard to argue that Skenes shouldn’t receive consideration to be the top pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. The 20-year-old owns a plus-plus fastball and a plus slider, both pitches that have proven to be too good for collegiate hitters. In fact, those two pitches could vault him through the Minors rather quickly.
The competition for that top pick, though, is stiff. Skenes’ teammate Dylan Crews is having a strong season, as is Tennessee ace Chase Dollander. Crews has hit over .400 thus far, while Dollander struck out 30 over his first 16.1 innings of the regular season. Then, there’s Florida star outfielder Wyatt Langford. Through his first 11 games, Langford hit .429/.554/.952 with five home runs, 11 extra base hits, and 13 RBIs.