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MLB Spring Breakout: Paul Skenes Ks Jackson Holliday in 1st day of action

SARASOTA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 29: Paul Skenes #30 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during a spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on February 29, 2024 in Sarasota, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Paul Skenes can throw the ball very, very hard. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) (Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images)

The first day of action in MLB's new Spring Breakout series saw some serious heat from last year's No. 1 pick and some less than serious production values in the other game.

The biggest performer of the day was Pittsburgh Pirates rising star Paul Skenes, who was selected first in the 2023 MLB Draft and has since impressed with his triple-digit fastball and wipeout secondary offerings.

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That continued Thursday, with a three-pitch strikeout of Baltimore Orioles prospect Enrique Bradfield Jr. Not a single pitch was slower than 101 mph.

The next batter was a rematch of one of the most talked-about plate appearances of the spring. Skenes faced Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 pick of the 2022 MLB Draft and the consensus top prospect in baseball, earlier this spring and got him to ground out with a 100 mph fastball.

Round 2 went to Skenes as well, with a six-pitch strikeout that ended on an ugly whiff:

"Fastball command was great, working on the breaking balls, being able to throw the changeup and sinker. It was awesome to be able to throw all those pitches," Skenes told the Pirates broadcast. "Love competing against guys like [Holliday]. Obviously knew the hype around that matchup, but I've been saying it for a little bit, he and I are going to have a lot more opportunities to face each other in the future. It's going to be fun."

Meanwhile, Pirates No. 2 prospect Termarr Johnson got a hit with a check-swing that turned into a well-placed grounder. Johnson is one of the better pure hitters in the minors, but you take everything you can get.

The Pirates won the seven-inning game 3-1.

As for the other game, between the Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers, well, hopefully fans weren't looking for a close-up view of the prospects.

The Spring Breakout series was pitched as a way to showcase prospects to fans with a platform they never get outside the MLB Futures Game before the All-Star break. It might've been a solid move by the league, but it apparently didn't come with a full emphasis on MLB-level production values.

You can see what we're talking about with this home run by Reds prospect Cam Collier, on which the cameras behind home plate don't even move as the ball flies away:

On the plus side, Rhett Lowder, the No. 7 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft, was impressive in two perfect innings with two strikeouts.

Friday brings an expanded slate of Spring Breakout action, with five games scheduled.