Pittsburgh Pirates: A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer With Quinn Priester
By Cody Potanko
In my seventh installment of ‘A Day in the Life of a Minor Leaguer’ I talked to highly ranked Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Quinn Priester. A great guy and an even better baseball player.
With my Grant Ford interview going over well, all of us here at Rum Bunter would like to thank both Grant for doing the interview, as well as everyone who read the piece. Today I’ll release the much anticipated Quinn Priester interview. Quinn is a great up and coming prospect who, in some people’s eyes, may be one of the saviors of this Pittsburgh Pirates franchise.
In Quinn’s own words to describe himself on and off the field, “on the field, I’m extremely competitive with a team-first mentality. I try to do everything in my power to help the team win. It’s not necessarily about getting 15 strikeouts a game, all that really matters is if we win. Off the field, I’m a pretty laid back guy I like to play video games with my friends back home. When I’m off the field, I don’t like to talk baseball too much; I try to enjoy my time off the field. Especially in the off-season because during the season, there is so much baseball, and I love that, but being able to step away from the game allows me to be more focused and ready when I do play.”
A little side note from Quinn is he loves to grill.
“With the way things are going now, I probably do it once a day. It’s starting to become a little hobby for me.” This right here made me realize that he is just another normal guy. We find ourselves thinking these athletes are some sort of space creature with no normal hobbies or interests, but honestly, they are just like you and me but with incredible athletic ability.
Going off of his description, I wanted to know what word the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect would use if he had to describe himself.
“A competitor. In terms of everything that I do, even if it’s playing video games and especially on the baseball field, I’m always trying to be better. I just want to do better than the guy next to me and, more importantly, what I did previously. I’m constantly competing in my life. When I’m pitching, I want my next outing to be better than my last, and if I’m grilling, I want this steak to be better than the last. That keeps me active, and that keeps me motivated every day.”
Dreams outside of baseball can be a bit murky with some players because, honestly, young guys don’t think about it too much. Quinn’s dreams, according to him, are as follows, “I’ve always been fascinated with being a pilot I’d love to do that in the future and fly a little bit. It may be for an airline or Fed Ex, but that is something that has always interested me. My uncle and cousin are both pilots, so I think that’s kind of where I get it from our family is actually pretty involved with aviation.”
Jumping from high school to pro ball isn’t uncommon, but I wanted to get a feel if the speed of pro ball was extreme compared to high school for this Pittsburgh Pirates prospect.
“As a pitcher, the competition is a lot better, but as a pitcher, I get to control the speed of the game. I make sure I don’t get too ahead of myself and let the game come to me. Once I got used to it the first couple of games and making sure I was taking my time, it then became a seamless transition. I made friends with (Sammy) Siani, Jase Bowen, and Jasiah Dixon. These guys kind of made me feel at home right away.”
If you have been following this series, you know, I like to ask who they tried to model their game after and who they looked up to growing up. So, who were these people for Quinn Priester?
“For me, I never thought to myself like man I want to be like that person that never really crossed my mind. But I always looked at Jake Arrieta I used to be a Cubs fan, it was like a perfect storm of teams that I like and players that I like. Jake Arrieta was that guy for me I thought he was awesome. In terms of modeling my game after anybody, that wasn’t really the case. I would look at people and think OK this guy has a really good curveball I wonder if I can find some video on it and try to replicate that. Noah Syndergaard throws the ball really hard; let’s see if I can get my lower-half similar to his and how can I be more efficient. I never had a pitching coach growing up, so I had to teach myself I consider myself smorgasbord of a lot of the guys I see on YouTube.”
In a way, he answered my next question in terms of wondering if the legends were true with him not having a pitching coach, but I wanted the finer details with this subject. “I had some coaches along the way help me here and there, but as far as the finer details of pitching, I had to trust myself and feel it out and get to the right position and get to the right spot. I didn’t know anything else, so I didn’t think it was different until I started to get on the national team with travel ball, then I was like I guess I am doing something different.”
Now in the GCL, Quinn had a pitching coach so, naturally, I wanted to know what were the main talking points of improvement development.
“A lot of the things were with me trying to stay consistent on my delivery. There were a lot of time where I would be late, and my arm would have to catch up, and I would throw balls when that would happen. So being on time and consistent, especially leg lift in my windup and staying back on my back leg out of the stretch. Those were the two big things that we wanted to work on to improve my timing. Then the last thing was my change up. I never had a change up, so throwing that change up was a huge emphasis, and it got a lot better I feel like.”
The advanced analytic community is growing in baseball by the second, and with coaches incorporating them on the daily, I wanted to know how much Quinn bought into those stats.
“I don’t, and I do I pick and choose with what I want to look at. I’ve seen some stuff getting back to me that I just don’t agree with, and there are some things that I do agree with and really value what it’s saying. I think spin rates are interesting to look at, but there is some stuff I don’t trust as much as much as I trust myself. It’s nice to have, but you know when you throw a good pitch, you can feel it, and you don’t need a machine to tell you that.”
I put Quinn on the spot and gave him a scenario. If the bases were loaded with two outs and a 3-2 count, what would be your go-to pitch? “I’d go sinker or a two-seam whatever you want to call it. That pitch I feel like I can command well, and it’s not going to get hit hard. If he’s thinking fastball, he might hit it on the ground or swing over it.”
With Quinn being able to become any type of pitcher he wants to be for the Pittsburgh Pirates, whether it is a strikeout guy or a ground ball guy, I wanted to know what kind of pitcher he wants to be considered as. “I want to be a high wins guy. I just want to win games so far in my career I’ve been a ground out guy, and if ground balls get wins, I’ll be a ground out guy. If I need to be a fly out guy to get wins, I will do that. I think I play better down in the zone, which leads to a ground out guy, but the win is the only thing that matters.”
During the baseball halt, I wanted to get a feel for what new thing Quinn is working on or maybe developing something he already has. “Change up has been a big focus. Right now, I feel it’s very beneficial for me and my career to get this change up to a place where I’m extremely confident to throw it in any count and be happy with the results that come out of it. This change up has been my main focus. I would like to add a fifth pitch, but that’s in the back of my head right now.”
An hour previous to our conversation Quinn said he called up his catcher from high school Drew Stangren who is currently committed to play at Central Michigan. “He’s awesome, one of my better friends. We get together pretty much every weekday, and I’ll throw with my dad on Saturdays. Me and Drew practice our own social distancing we will put on hand sanitizer play catch, have a bullpen, and talk a little bit after. For me, Drew is the only person I see besides my family it’s good to have that it keeps me sane.”
Some sites or blogs are considering guys like Quinn, Tahnaj Thoams, and Cody Bolton as the “saviors” of the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise I wanted to know how he felt about that.
“I’m excited that people are saying that and are thinking of us in that regard, but people saying that is one thing and actually doing it is another. Guys like me, Tahnaj, (Aaron) Shortridge, and Cody have to keep working hard at the end of the day it’s going to come down to us to put in the work and go the extra mile for our teammates and ourselves. It is really humbling and awesome to have people hold us in that regard.”
As far as future plans go for Quinn, I wanted to know if he talked to new Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington or the front office at all and what the Pittsburgh Pirates planned to do with him this upcoming season. “I have talked to Mr. Cherington, they really didn’t give me anything they kind of said your future is up to you, which I understand, and I appreciate it, and it gets me really excited. I’m going to get out of it what I put in, it’s determined by how hard I work and how hard I progress. The plan right now is to start me in Greensboro (Low-A).”
Like every final question, I like to keep it light and playful I wanted to know if he was a regular fry guy or a curly fry guy, and like everyone else, he through me for a loop. “I’m a crinkle-cut guy.” Quinn was a fun guy to talk to, and I look forward to watching him, and others bloom into the guys I know they can be within the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.