Pittsburgh Pirates: Can Quinn Priester Build Off a Strong 2019?
The Pittsburgh Pirates first-round pick in 2019 was a right-handed starting pitcher. He had a really good debut last year, can he continue it this year?
The last first-round draft pick that former Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington made was to take high school starter Quinn Priester. Priester became the top prep pitcher off of the board at number 18 overall. He passed on his commitment to the Texas Christian University to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates for a slot deal of $3.4 million.
The pick already looks like it was a good one as Priester dominated in his début last season. In addition to a strong début season, Priester is now in the conversation as a top 100 prospect. The right hander through in nine games in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last season: eight of them came with the Gulf Coast affiliate while the last one came with the Short-Season West Virginia Black Bears. In total, he pitched to a 3.19 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. Priester also showed relatively good command for an 18-year old, only walking 9 percent of the hitters he faced.
Beyond his numbers, Priester has the physical build one wants to see in a potential top-end of the rotation starter; he stands at 6’3” and weighs around 200 pounds with a fastball that has hit 96 miles per hour already. He also throws a plus curveball and a changeup. According to FanGraphs, his changeup made big strides last year, having this writeup:
"“His stuff ticked up closer to the draft, when he was consistently in the mid-90s, and he was 91-95, touching 96 after he signed, and his changeup showed late growth, too.”"
FanGraphs graded Priester’s changeup and curveball as 55s on the 20-80 scale, so both pitches are projected to above average. If Priester can continue to refine and improve those pitches, he will firmly put himself inside the top 100 lists this season. Currently, Keith Law of The Athletic is the only notable prospect writer to have him on their top 100 list.
He already has shown the ability to dominate players that are the same age as him so adding better secondary stuff will only make him even tougher to face. Priester will likely start the season at Low-A Greensboro and has a chance to solidify himself as this team’s next big pitching prospect.