Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes picked for All-Star Game just 2 months after his major league debut

Skenes began the 2024 season with the Indianapolis Indians
Reds Pirates Baseball
Posted at 7:05 AM, Jul 08, 2024
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Paul Skenes' first All-Star selection was as speedy as his fastball.

Just eight weeks after his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 22-year-old right-hander was selected Sunday by Major League Baseball for the National League roster in the July 16 game at Arlington, Texas.

“It’s happened quick,” Skenes said. “Hopefully, I’ll have some time when I get out there to take it all in and be able to experience it all. It’s just a really cool opportunity all around.”

Skenes' final outing before the All-Star break is likely to be midweek, so he could be a possibility to start for the NL.

“That’d be cool. No expectations,” he said. “I don’t know who gets to decide that kind of thing, but that'd definitely be cool.”

He made his first big league start on May 11 and is 5-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 10 starts and 78 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings. He has thrown 74 pitches of 100 mph or more.

“This is cool, and I’m just grateful for all you guys,” Skenes said to teammates in the clubhouse after being told by manager Derek Shelton. “Since the first day I’ve been here I’ve been part of the team. I couldn’t have done it without you guys.”

His 11 games would put him on track to have the fewest for player in an All-Star Game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Detroit’s Mark Fidrych in 1976, the Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo in 1995 and Florida’s Dontrelle Willis in 2003 each had 13. (While Boston’s Don Schwall had 11 at the time of the first All-Star Game in 1961, he did not appear, and he had 15 when he pitched three innings three weeks later in that year’s second All-Star Game.)

Skenes looked forward to the possibility of facing the New York Yankees' Aaron Judge and Juan Soto.

“I would imagine that it’s probably going to be a blur, a lot happening over a short span of time with the Home Run Derby and then the All-Star Game,” Skenes said. “Just try to meet as many people as possible and pick their brains, and because the concentration of talent and knowledge at the All-Star Game is unlike anything that I’m ever going to experience in my life, so I’m just going to want to experience that and learn as much as possible.”

After leading LSU to the 2023 College World Series title, Skenes was selected by the Pirates with the top pick in last year's amateur draft, two days before the All-Star Game in Seattle. He signed for a $9.2 million bonus.

He made five appearances at rookie league, Class A and Double-A, then had a 0.99 ERA in seven starts this season at Triple-A Indianapolis, striking out 45 in 27 1/3 innings.

“Starting the year in Triple-A the odds of going to the major league All-Star Game are pretty slim,” Skenes said. “So that wasn’t one of my goals necessarily or expectations of the season, but just a huge honor that I’m able to do it, obviously, over a short period of span in the big leagues.”

He has at least seven strikeouts in nine of 10 games, the first pitcher to accomplish the feat.

“It’s going to be fun to watch. I think we’re all going to enjoy it if he gets the opportunity to pitch,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “There’s no challenge that Paul’s ever stepped away from. I’m pretty sure he’ll enjoy it.”

Outfielder Bryan Reynolds also was picked from the Pirates, his second All-Star selection. He is hitting .281 with 16 homers and 54 RBIs, raising his average from .233 through games of May 12.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet because I think that we have three or four other guys that are deserving of going,” Skenes said. “It would be really cool to share it with more people than just Bryan and let everybody see how good of an organization and the talent that we have here is."

Skenes looks forward to achieving bigger goals, such as pitching in the postseason.

“I still hope I do something cooler than making an All-Star Game,” Skenes said.