While the Pittsburgh Pirates have looked solid to start the 2024 campaign, fans have been patiently awaiting for the arrival of top prospect Paul Skenes. However, those fans will need to wait a little longer before the Pirates feel comfortable bringing Skenes to the big league.

General manager Ben Cherington wants the right-hander to get more reps at the minor league level, via Alex Stumpf of MLB.com. For as talented as Skenes is, Pittsburgh wants to ensure they're developing him correctly and not rushing him too quickly.

“With Paul, we've been very intentional about how we're building his volume coming into the season with a goal of really accomplishing two things,” Cherington said. “One is to try and get him to an appropriate total volume for 2024 coming off of last year, where he pitched a full college season and then just a little bit of pro ball.”

“We don't want to go from zero to 100 right away,” Cherington continued. “Paul's so important to us long term, so we want to be thoughtful of that.”

Through his first three games at the Triple-A level, Skenes holds a perfect 0.00 ERA and a 19.4 K/BB ratio. With only 9.1 innings pitched, he has racked up an immaculate 18.3 K/9. Over his eight total appearances at the minor league level, Skenes holds a 2.25 ERA and a 29/4 K/BB ratio.

Currently ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball, via MLB Pipeline, Paul Skenes' arrival to the Pirates will be one of the grandest debuts in team history. The team knows just how valuable he is to the present and future of the organization.

But as tantalized as they may be, Pittsburgh is staying patient. It won't take much more seasoning for Skenes to be MLB ready – if he isn't already. But the Pirates are dotting their I's and crossing their T's before making any final decisions.

Paul Skenes' path to Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes (30) throws a pitch in the fourth inning of the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at CoolToday Park.
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

With Pittsburgh in dire need of pitching, Skenes fell right into the Pirates' lap with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. Even if the Pirates were already loaded with pitching, it would've been difficult to pass up on the righty.

Over his two seasons with Air Force and one with LSU, Skenes put up a 24-6 record with a 2.18 ERA and a 335/59 K/BB ratio. He broke onto the scene in his final season with LSU, helping the Tigers win the Men's College World Series. Skenes held a 13-2 record with a 2.05 ERA and a 209/20 K/BB ratio. His performance earned him the National Pitcher of the Year and the Dick Howser Trophy among many other accolades.

Once he was drafted, Skenes spent one game at rookie ball and one in Single-A before being moved to Double-A. But even after the elevation, Skenes only made two further starts.

The intangibles are all there for Paul Skenes to soon become the ace of the Pirates. But with such little professional baseball experience under his belt, Pittsburgh is playing it safe. It'll be harder and harder for the Pirates to keep him down the way he is playing. But with some extra seasoning, Pittsburgh is confident Skenes will be everything they need him to be and more.