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Paul Skenes Fantasy Outlook: Pirates Phenom A First-Round Pick In 2025?

Could Skenes be the first SP off the board next season?

Paul Skenes is everything you want in an ace — both in the real world and in fantasy baseball.

Sure, the major-league sample size remains small. But we’re talking about one of the most-hyped prospects in recent memory — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft — who did nothing but dominate in college. And now, the Pittsburgh Pirates phenom is dominating on the big stage, with remarkable results and underlying data to suggest everything we’re seeing is legit.

Don’t be afraid to act aggressively in your 2025 fantasy baseball draft, especially if it’s a dynasty startup league.

How aggressive? Well, there’s a strong case for Skenes to be the first starting pitcher off the board in dynasty leagues. And he’s not far behind for 2025 leagues, either, based on his upside relative to the other options available.

Spencer Strider was the undeniable SP1 for dynasty leagues after 2023, having put together an amazing age-24 season for the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, his elbow started barking, resulting in elbow surgery that’ll cost him all of 2024. Throw in his 2019 Tommy John surgery, and there’s a great deal of long-term risk associated with paying a premium for Strider ahead of 2025.

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Thus, we turn our attention elsewhere. Tarik Skubal, 27, of the Detroit Tigers and Grayson Rodriguez, 24, of the Baltimore Orioles look like dynasty building blocks based on their youth and career-to-date performance. George Kirby, 26, of the Seattle Mariners and Garrett Crochet, 25, of the Chicago White Sox likewise have been excellent in 2024. Even Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who turns 26 in August, flashed No. 1-level production before landing on the injured list in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers after a decorated career in Japan.

Those looking to win right away might even opt for a long-established veteran like Gerrit Cole or Zack Wheeler, who’ll be entering their age-34 and age-35 seasons, respectively, in 2025. Corbin Burnes, turning 30 in October, is firmly in his prime, though his landing spot in free agency this winter could impact his fantasy stock to an extent. All three are better single-season options than dynasty assets. Father Time, after all, remains undefeated.

Skenes, meanwhile, has it all, with the only knock being the aforementioned lack of experience at the MLB level. The 22-year-old features an elite five-pitch mix that includes a fastball with triple-digit velocity. He piles up strikeouts and limits walks. Mound presence, demeanor and confidence? Check, check and check.

Skenes isn’t without risk, of course. MLB hitters make adjustments. And the book will be out on the LSU product going into next season. But no innings restrictions, limited mileage on his right arm and continued excellence that just netted him a National League All-Star selection — yeah, we’ll buy all the Skenes stock we can get our hands on.

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Is he a first-round pick in either format? Maybe not, because there are so many good young position players who offer similar upside and less risk. But if your heart is set on pitching, going with Skenes in Round 2 or Round 3 feels very reasonable at this rate.

Featured image via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images