by David Folse II
One of the best two-way collegiate baseball players couldn’t be more excited about his decision to transfer.
LSU junior Paul Skenes, who transferred to LSU back in July, came to Baton Rouge as one of the most sought-after transfers in the country. The 6-6, 235-pound Skenes hit .314 with 13 home runs last season for Air Force. He was equally as impressive on the mound for the Falcons, going 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA. In 85.2 innings of work Skenes allowed 26 earned runs on 70 hits, striking out 96 and walking only 30.
“I’ve been loving it,” Skenes said of the adjustment to Baton Rouge. “When you get to work with these players and these coaches, you realize LSU is one of the best places to be in the country for a reason. Being in a program that has the best resources around has been really cool.
“The biggest change I have noticed of course is the amount of time I have to work (play baseball). I can play as long as I want every day. The day-to-day schedule when you are at Air Force is very different. I haven’t been able to go out and experience cajun food as much as I wanted to, but the football games are absolutely awesome. I have buddies coming into town for the Alabama game. I can’t wait.”
Now five months in, Skenes said he has no doubts he made the right move.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I talk to recruits often because they talk and ask me why I made the move to Baton Rouge. I am honest with them. Being a two-way player like I am, I think this is the best place in the country to develop. Everything I have done since I got here has reaffirmed that in my mind.”
A catcher during his non-pitching time in Colorado Springs, Skenes said the plan for him in the upcoming season is to pitch and hit for LSU.
“I love catching,” he said. “I think if I hoped back there (behind the plate) right now I could do a pretty good job. To be honest, the future for me is in pitching and hitting and not necessarily catching. I went into the summer knowing that. The coaching staff (at LSU) agreed with that sentiment as well.
“With Coach Johnson working at the plate it’s all about being able to see the ball better and figuring out how to do that on a more consistent basis. Not a lot of huge mechanical adjustments, lowered my leg kick a little bit. Has helped me see the ball better.
“(with pitching coach Wes Johnson) it’s been pretty much just learning how to use my stuff and knowing what makes me good on the mound and figuring out how I can use that to get hitters out better. I don't think I have ever struck out people as consistently at Air Force as I am now, which excites me. Some mechanical stuff with him as well, but it’s really just knowing what I do well and using it more.”