LSU baseball coaches develop plan for two-way player Paul Skenes | USL

LSU’s lack of starting pitchers led to its ultimate downfall in the Hattiesburg area last season and was a focal point for offseason recruiting.

One of the notable names on the transfer portal is two-way player Paul Skenes, co-collegiate baseball freshman of the year 2021 and first-team all-American in 2021 and 2022.

Skenes transferred to LSU after two years at the Air Force Academy, which means he won’t have to serve in the Air Force. This factored into his decision to enter the transfer portal.

“I kind of realized that I had a real shot at a career in baseball,” Skenes said. “It wasn’t a thought I had before my freshman year.

Last year I realized that maybe I should leave the Academy because the way it works there is — the Air Force is in control, so if you’re a gamer of minor or major baseball and you’re still in the Air Force, they can choose and take that away from you. Which isn’t a very common thing, but you see it from time to time.”

Skenes helped an Air Force team win its first-ever Mountain West title, leading the Falcons to their first NCAA regional appearance since 1969.

The 6-foot-6 transfer hit .314 with 13 homers, 10 doubles and 38 RBIs while adding a 10-3 record with a 2.73 ERA on the mound as a starter, striking out 96 and walking 30.

“He’s able to create an angle on the fastball, work downhill and really develop his secondary stuff with coach Wes Johnson,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said. “On the hitting front, he hit a couple home runs last week on live beats, he’s got tremendous power.”

Skenes’ punching and throwing time breakdown is still being determined. Last season, Skenes would hit and pitch on the same days.

“Right now, I’m pitching on pitching days and hitting on hitting days,” Skenes said. “Last year when I had both, it was really hard to be honest. I don’t know how Shohei Ohtani does it for 162 games, but I think at some point we might try.

Dylan Crews said Skenes was one of the toughest pitchers to hit in fall practice. However, as a rookie, Crews hit his first home run against Skenes on February 21, 2021.

“He’s huge up there, it’s kind of like a three-quarter lunge, so it’s a different angle,” Crews said. “It’s interesting, but it’s great.”

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