So far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had a lot of positives to be happy about this Spring. Today is another day of intrigue.
One of the best things about Spring Training is the fact that, as fans, we get to see some of the young prospects that we have been hearing about. For instance, the Pittsburgh Pirates have already gotten several young players experience, ranging from close-to-MLB ready Oneil Cruz to 2020 first round draft pick Nick Gonzales. For a small market team looking towards the future, it is great to see get a glimpse at who could be a part of that future.
Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates are taking on the Baltimore Orioles. The Bucs will be sending left-handed starter Tyler Anderson to the mound. Anderson is a veteran who is battling for a rotation spot and will be watched closely.
However, there is another pitcher who is scheduled to pitch in this game that should garner the most interest. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles are expected to play a complete nine inning game, so there will be plenty of opportunities for young players. This includes 2019 first round draft pick Quinn Priester.
Priester is expected to make his Grape Fruit League debut this afternoon. This is a big moment for the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Priester is a name that fans have quickly learned over the last year. He had a solid debut to his career in 2019, but only threw 36.2 innings. So the fact that he is already being talked about as a top 100 prospect should be very telling.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Priester there was a lot to like about the player. He was a very good high school football player out the state of Illinois and owned a 6’3” projectable frame. He was a highly athletic pitcher, who has had success in multiple sports, with all the physical projectability. The question for Priester was how would he develop as a pitcher, including his command and secondary pitches. Well, Jim Callis had an update on Priester’s development as a pitcher in the last year:
Priester went from in the conversation of being a top 100 prospect to now being ranked 52nd on MLB Pipeline’s updated list. The fact that he has only thrown about 35 innings innings shows the progress he made during the last year. So what has led to the change? Well, he had a really impressive Alternate site experience when he was added late in the yer:
One thing we have spoken about in depth on this site and on RumBunter Radio is spin rates on pitches. During our interview with pitching prospect Michael Burrows, he revealed that the new regime really has focused on pitchers adding to their spin rate. The Front Office has brought in a lot of new technology to help measure the spin rates among other things. The ultimate goal is to find a point in a pitchers motion that shows he is throwing his pitches at the highest possible efficiency. Burrows said that once he focused on that he saw his pitches take a step forward, including his fastball velocity.
Apparently the same has happened for Priester. There have been reports of him touching upper 90s with hope for triple digits. Also, he has plus spin rates on all his pitches. So today when Priester takes the mound, it will be intriguing to see if those reports translate to in-game. This is a big moment for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they look to Quinn Priester to develop as their future ace.