Sports

Pirates phenom Paul Skenes plans on serving country in military after MLB career, Air Force coach says

It appears Pittsburgh Pirates phenom starter Paul Skenes already knows what he wants to do when his pitching days are over in MLB. 

USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale wrote a feature on Skenes, where he spoke with his former college baseball coach while he spent his first two seasons at the Air Force Academy. 

Mike Kazlausky told Nightengale that he remains in contact with Skenes, and they have discussed how serving his country is something Skenes plans on doing once his MLB career comes to an end. 

Paul Skenes pitches

Paul Skenes, #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates, throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 17, 2024 in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

“He will serve his country in some manner moving forward,” Kazlausky told Nightengale. “It’s just going to be a matter of when. Paul and I have spoken about that piece. We’ll get him back in the military once his professional playing days are over. 

“It’s a big deal for Paul to be able to serve our country.”

PAUL SKENES IS AS GOOD AS ADVERTISED. WHAT’S NEXT FOR HIM AND THE PIRATES?

Nightengale’s feature revolved around service academies’ professional sports policies, which would have had Skenes serving five years in the Air Force had he remained in the Academy beyond two years. Only after serving his time would Skenes be allowed to pursue his MLB dreams. 

Skenes opted to transfer to LSU instead, where his play on the mound only got better, and he became the eventual No. 1 pick by the Pirates last year. Skenes owned a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP with the Tigers during their College World Series-winning season last year that saw him as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player as well as college baseball’s National Pitcher of the Year. 

Paul Skenes pitches

Paul Skenes, #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates, throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 17, 2024 in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

It was a decision that certainly worked out for the fireball-throwing right-hander, who made quick work of his minor league opponents this year before the Pirates finally called him up for his big league debut. 

Though he only pitched four innings, Skenes was electric in his debut, striking out seven hitters with a fastball that consistently touched triple digits. He allowed three earned runs, but two of them did come when Pirates relievers could not find the strike zone and started walking in Chicago Cubs hitters on May 11. Still, those left on base prior to him exiting are his responsibility. 

Skenes followed up his debut with an even better performance, this time giving up no hits over six innings with 11 strikeouts and one walk. That quickly dropped his ERA to 2.70 over two starts.

Paul Skenes looks to pitch

Paul Skenes, #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates, throws a pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 17, 2024 in Chicago. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

The Pirates are hoping Skenes can be the ace they drafted him to be for a long time with their franchise, and he is certainly off to the right start. However, his call to duty is something he still holds close to heart, according to his old coach. 

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