Phenom Skenes, Reynolds earn All-Star selections for Pirates (2024)

July 7th, 2024

Phenom Skenes, Reynolds earn All-Star selections for Pirates (1)

Alex Stumpf

@AlexJStumpf

PITTSBURGH -- Even before the hype truly began and talk started of Paul Skenes being a potentially generational prospect, Tre’ Morgan knew the right-hander was something special. After facing him at Louisiana State University last year, Morgan thought of his collegiate teammate, “This is the best pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”

“I knew he was the sickest,” Morgan said to MLB.com Rays reporter Adam Berry. “Everybody on the team knew he was the sickest. Now, everybody in the world knows he’s the sickest.”

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The whole world is going to get a proper introduction to Skenes now. Less than a year after being taken first overall in the 2023 MLB Draft -- 364 days, to be exact -- Skenes will be recognized as one of the sport’s great pitchers.

Skenes and outfielder Bryan Reynolds were named to the National League All-Star team Sunday. It will be Reynolds’ second All-Star nod, the other coming when he started in center field in 2021, and the first for the rookie Skenes, who didn’t even have pitching in the Midsummer Classic on his radar.

“Obviously, starting the year in Triple-A, the odds of going to the Major League All-Star Game are pretty slim, so that wasn't one of my goals necessarily or expectations for this season,” said Skenes. “It's just a huge honor that I'm able to do it, after playing just a short span in the big leagues."

Skenes is the first Pirates rookie pitcher to ever be named to an All-Star Game, and the first Pirates rookie to get the nod since Tony Womack in 1997.

He has only made 10 Major League starts after starting the season in the Minors, but his results have been outstanding. Among pitchers with at least 50 innings thrown this season entering Sunday, Skenes ranked second in ERA (2.12), third in strikeout rate (33.6%) and third in strikeout minus walk rate (28.4%). He is 5-0 in his young career with 78 strikeouts over 59 1/3 innings.

There have also been more than a handful of memorable outings in his young career, too. He threw six no-hit innings at Wrigley Field in his first road start. He took on the top of the Dodgers’ lineup, featuring three MVPs, and more than held his own. Being an All-Star is just another very cool thing that has happened to him in his first two months of being a big leaguer.

"I still hope I do something cooler than making an All-Star Game,” Skenes said with a smile.

“He obviously deserves it,” Reynolds said. “He’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball since he got here. I think it’s obviously the right call.”

Reynolds is also more than deserving of a trip to Globe Life Field in Arlington this summer. Among National League outfielders entering Sunday, Reynolds ranked second in home runs (16), second in OPS (.836), third in batting average (.284) and tied for third in doubles (19).

Reynolds’ offensive numbers were buoyed by a 25-game hitting streak in June, the longest in the Majors this season and the longest by a switch-hitter in Pirates history.

“I think it was one of my goals,” Reynolds said of being named an All-Star. “An unsaid, unwritten goal. Just because if you do that, you’re probably having a good year. You’re probably helping the team.”

Reynolds has been the constant in the Pirates’ lineup, not only for his consistent results since shrugging off a cold start, but he has also played in every Pirates game this season.

“It’s just kind of who I am, how I’ve been,” Reynolds said. “That’s how it should be. If I’m healthy, might as well go.”

The one thing Reynolds wants to make sure he does this year that he didn’t in 2021 is get his sons on the field during the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

“We kinda botched that last time, didn’t do that,” Reynolds said. “That’s one of the bigger reasons I wanted to go.”

For Skenes, the last remaining question is whether he will be the National League’s starting pitcher. His last start of the first half of the season will be Thursday at Milwaukee, which should make him available to pitch in the big game, if National League manager Torey Lovullo so chooses.

"That would be cool,” Skenes said. “I have no expectations. I don't know how that works or who gets to decide that kinda thing, but that would definitely be cool."

Phenom Skenes, Reynolds earn All-Star selections for Pirates (2024)

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