The untold truth of Paul Skenes


While Major League Baseball (MLB) has its share of controversies, it also boasts plenty of inspiring stories, such as the rise of Pittsburgh Pirates’ rookie, Paul Skenes. At just 21, Skenes has rapidly become one of the most talked-about players in the league. His journey to the MLB is marked by numerous achievements, showcasing both his athletic prowess and his dedication off the field.

Skenes’ love for baseball began in childhood and never wavered. He graduated high school with an impressive 4.76 GPA before enrolling at the Air Force Academy, where he initially juggled his military aspirations with his passion for baseball. Eventually, Skenes transferred to Louisiana State University (LSU), where his talent on the mound truly shone. His performance at LSU led to him being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft, accompanied by a record-breaking $9.2 million signing bonus.

Off the field, Skenes’ personal life has also garnered attention. His relationship with social media star and LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne has been in the spotlight since rumors of their romance began circulating in 2023. However, it was his MLB debut in May 2024 that shifted the focus back to his athletic talents. Standing 6’6″ and weighing 247 pounds, Skenes made a memorable debut, reinforcing his status as a powerhouse pitcher. Yet, there’s much more to know about this rising star.

Early Signs of MLB Potential

Paul Skenes displayed extraordinary athletic potential from a young age. His parents, Craig and Karen, recalled to in 2024 that their son was passionate about baseball from the age of seven, constantly playing and watching games on TV. His dedication paid off when he tried out for USA Baseball’s 12U National Team in 2014 and met his future high school coach, Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez recognized Skenes’ talent early on, noting his impressive arm and mechanics. Skenes made the team and continued to excel at El Toro High School, a school known for producing MLB players like Matt Chapman, Nolan Arenado, and Austin Romine. By the time he was a freshman, Skenes was already standing out with his power and size, growing from 6’1″ to his current height by graduation.

Military Ambitions and Baseball Dreams

After high school, Skenes chose the Air Force Academy, where he initially put his baseball dreams on hold to focus on his military career. Although he played as a relief pitcher during his freshman year, his talent was undeniable, especially with his 92 mph fastballs. Former Air Force pitching coach Ryan Forrest described Skenes as “superhuman,” highlighting his impressive skills and dedication. Despite his military aspirations, Skenes remained practical about his future in professional baseball, recognizing the challenges ahead. His time at the Air Force Academy was not just about baseball; he was deeply committed to serving his country and upholding the academy’s values, which he demonstrated through his actions and leadership.

The Tough Decision to Transfer

In 2022, Skenes faced a pivotal decision: continue at the Air Force Academy or pursue his MLB dreams. Staying would mean delaying his baseball career until after completing his service, potentially jeopardizing his professional opportunities. Ultimately, he decided to transfer to LSU, a move that proved transformative. At LSU, Skenes focused exclusively on pitching, honing his skills and solidifying his reputation as a top prospect. This decision paid off when he was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023.

Dominating the Minor Leagues

Following his selection, Skenes quickly ascended through the minor leagues, starting with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. He dominated with 45 strikeouts and a 0.99 ERA across 27.1 innings, showcasing his readiness for the big leagues. His MLB debut on May 11, 2024, against the Chicago Cubs, was highly anticipated. Despite some initial jitters, Skenes’ performance impressed with multiple pitches clocking over 100 mph. Reflecting on his debut, Skenes emphasized the need to improve, displaying his characteristic pragmatism and drive for excellence.

Supportive Relationship with Olivia Dunne

Skenes’ time at LSU also led to his relationship with Olivia Dunne, a fellow LSU athlete and social media star. The couple met through mutual friends and began dating in June 2023. Dunne has been a supportive partner, regularly attending Skenes’ games and helping him navigate the pressures of professional sports. Skenes has credited Dunne with helping him manage the “hype” surrounding his career, highlighting the positive impact of their relationship on his performance.

Commitment to Military and Community Service

Despite his baseball success, Skenes remains dedicated to the military and supporting veterans. He hopes to return to service after his baseball career and has already made significant contributions through fundraising and advocacy. As an ambassador for True Victory, a sportswear company founded by veterans, Skenes has helped raise over $60,000 for Folds of Honor, a non-profit providing scholarships to families of fallen and disabled servicemembers.

Paul Skenes’ journey from a young baseball enthusiast to a rising MLB star is a testament to his talent, dedication, and character. Whether on the pitcher’s mound or in his advocacy for veterans, Skenes continues to make a significant impact both in and out of the game.