Dodgers Team News

Among Shohei Ohtani’s First MLB Fans: A Teenage Paul Skenes

The highly anticipated showdown between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Paul Skenes won’t be the first time the rookie was in the same building as Shohei Ohtani.

Born in Fullerton and raised in Lake Forest, Skenes grew up attending Angels home games in Anaheim. Among them? Ohtani’s regular season MLB debut on the mound, on April 8, 2018.

“I grew up watching him,” Skenes said, via “As a two-way guy, that was what I was trying to be before I got drafted. He was an inspiration in a lot of ways.”

Skenes was the first overall selection in the 2023 draft by the Pirates out of LSU. By then, he had focused his talent exclusively on pitching and was ticketed as a fast riser through the minor leagues. Sure enough, the Pirates decided Skenes was ready for the big leagues after seeing him pitch in just 12 minor league games.

Since making his major league debut on May 11, Skenes is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four starts. The 22-year-old will make his fifth career start against the player he watched growing up. Ohtani is batting second for the Dodgers, as is his custom.

The full-circle moment will arrive shortly after the 3:40 p.m. (PT) first pitch.

“Obviously didn’t know exactly what the baseball world had at the time, but it was cool to watch him compete,” said Skenes on the field at PNC Park on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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JP Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors. Follow at

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