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Pirates' Skenes retires Orioles' Holliday in Grapefruit League matchup between top draft picks

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Paul Skenes retired the Baltimore Orioles' Jackson Holliday on a grounder to second base Thursday in a spring training matchup of the top overall picks in the last two amateur drafts.

Skenes, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, was the first pick last year after going 13-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 209 strikeouts while leading LSU to the NCAA title. He agreed to a $9.2 million signing bonus and pitched in five games with Low-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona.

“I think the biggest thing was just getting out there and pitching in front of people, because adrenaline is a big thing,” Skenes told reporters after the game in Sarasota Florida. “Just kind of wanted to see where we’re at.”

Holliday, the first pick in the 2022 draft, is regarded as baseball’s top prospect. The 20-year-old, a son of seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday, agreed to an $8.19 million signing bonus. He batted .323 with a .442 on-base percentage, 12 homers, 74 RBIs and 24 steals in 125 games for four minor league teams last season.

Skenes followed the first-inning matchup against Holliday by facing Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019. The AL All-Star flied out to the right-field warning track.

Skenes threw 10 pitches while retiring the side in order in his lone inning. His fastball reached 102 mph.

“Pretty satisfied,” Skenes said. “I’ve got some stuff to work on, but yeah, I’m ready to go. Feel good.”

Skenes went 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI in the Orioles’ 9-8 victory.

GIANTS’ BECK HAS ANEURYSM IN ARM

San Francisco reliever Tristan Beck was diagnosed with an aneurysm in his upper arm after visiting a vascular specialist at Stanford. The Giants said Beck will weigh his treatment options over the next few days.

Beck had gone to see the specialist after dealing with lingering soreness in his right hand.

The 27-year-old right-hander went 3-3 with a 3.92 ERA last season in 33 appearances, including three starts. He had been projected to open the season in the Giants’ starting rotation.

RAYS ADD CATCHING DEPTH WITH FAMILIAR FACE

The Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a minor league contract with catcher Francisco Mejía, who will report to major league camp.

Mejía, 28, batted .227 with a .258 on-base percentage, five homers and 19 RBIs in 50 games with Tampa Bay last season. He has played with the Rays since 2021 and also had stints with Cleveland and San Diego in a major league career that began in 2017.

RAYS’ LOWE HURTING

Tampa Bay’s Josh Lowe is dealing with hip inflammation and isn’t expected to play in a game for the next 10-to-15 days. Rays manager Kevin Cash told the Tampa Bay Times the team is not overly concerned about Lowe’s availability for the season's start.

Lowe, 26, hit .292 with a .335 on-base percentage, 20 homers, 83 RBIs and 32 steals in 135 games last season.

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AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Steve Megargee, The Associated Press