Paul Skenes, the No. 1 pick in last summer's draft and the game's consensus top pitching prospect, will make his big-league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. (We here at CBS Sports recently analyzed Skenes in greater depth, offering insight into his arsenal and his upside.) He'll reach the majors following a 12-start introduction to the pros that saw him compile a 1.85 ERA and a 5.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 34 innings and four levels.

Skenes' arrival means that it's time to focus on the important questions at hand. Like, say, who now is the best pitching prospect yet to make their big-league debut? Below, CBS Sports has highlighted five candidates for the title, as well as five honorable mentions. As always, keep in mind that these exercises are more of an art than a science and that everyone has their evaluative predilections. 

With that out of the way, let's get to it.

1. RHP Cade Horton, Cubs

Horton, the seventh pick in the 2022 draft, recently received a promotion to Triple-A. It was well-deserved: he compiled a 1.10 ERA and a 9.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in four Double-A starts. His arsenal is led by a low-to-mid 90s fastball with natural cutting action and a slider that grades as his best pitch. If there's one factor working against Horton impacting this year's Cubs squad, it's workload concerns. He hasn't thrown more than 88 innings in a season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. The Cubs would be justified in maintaining their conservative approach here. Given that he's already over 20 frames, that could result in fewer big-league appearances -- or, perhaps, fewer starts -- than his talent and his performance merit.

2. RHP Jackson Jobe, Tigers

Jobe, the third pick in the 2021 draft, had accumulated a 2.16 ERA and a 2.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio across five Double-A starts before injuring his hamstring last time out. He was on a particularly torrid stretch at the time, having not surrendered a hit in his last seven-plus innings thanks to a high-grade  arsenal. Jobe's ascent hinges on when, precisely, he returns from the shelf. If it's sooner than later, it's at least plausible that he debuts this year. If he requires a lengthier stay, he'll probably have to wait until 2025 to get his first sip of Comerica Park clubhouse coffee.

3. RHP Rhett Lowder, Reds

Lowder, the second pitcher off the board last summer, has proven unbothered by a debuting assignment to High-A. Across five starts he's amassed a 2.49 ERA and a 4.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio. A product of Wake Forest's best-in-class pitching lab, Lowder is believed to already have an optimized arsenal and delivery. In turn, he doesn't have the ceiling that some of his peers with bigger raw stuff profiles do. Lowder does have a high floor, however, and the Reds have no reason to slow-play his journey to the majors. Keep him in mind for a potential debut later this season. 

4. RHP Chase Dollander, Rockies

Dollander was a candidate to be the first pitcher selected last July, but he had to instead settle for being third following an inconsistent spring. He's dominated High-A batters so far, scoring a 2.33 ERA and a 4.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio fueled by a 42.9% strikeout percentage. The Rockies are … well, they're highly unlikely to make the playoffs. That may mean that Dollander spends this entire season in the minors before making his big-league debut sometime next spring into summer.

5. RHP Tink Hence, Cardinals

There are a lot of reasonable candidates for the final spot on this list. We gave the nod to Hence because of some encouraging trends in his durability. He's long had the stuff and the command to profile as a quality start. Last season, though, he averaged just over four innings per pop and didn't work beyond the fifth inning. Hence has been unleashed -- sort of -- so far this year, averaging five innings per start and even completing seven frames in his final April start. That's progress.

Honorable mentions

1. RHP Andrew Painter, Phillies: We're big fans of Painter. We just couldn't justify including him in the top five when he hasn't thrown a pitch since 2022. He is expected to return in 2025.

2. RHP Hurston Waldrep, Braves: Waldrep was one of our favorite pitchers in last summer's draft thanks to a quality fastball-splitter combination. The knock on him was his command. Let's put it this way: he's sporting a 10.2% walk rate this season and that represents a big step forward. The Braves are an underrated good team at pitching development, so we'll see if they can continue to help him maximize his talent. If so, he could be one of the steals of last year's class.

3. RHP Jacob Misiorowski, Brewers: Misiorowski is arguably a more extreme version of Waldrep. He has huge stuff, resulting in nearly 14 strikeouts per nine at Double-A this year, but he's walked 17.7% of the batters he's faced. That would represent the second-highest rate in the majors (min. 20 innings), behind only injured Oakland Athletics right-hander Joe Boyle

4. LHP Ricky Tiedemann, Blue Jays: The only thing preventing Tiedemann from slotting into the Blue Jays' big-league staff is health. He recently went on the injured list with ulnar nerve inflammation. When hearty and hale, he has a quality three-pitch mix delivered from a low slot.

5. LHP Noah Schultz, White Sox: Again, there are a lot of other names you could slot in here. We felt like Schultz merited a mention. He's picked up where he left off last season, punching out more than 15 batters per nine across five High-A starts. If he stays healthy and develops as desired, he's going to be a pitcher worth knowing for years to come.