With his first full professional season now 13 starts deep top pitching prospect Quinn Priester appears to be turning a corner for the Pittsburgh Pirates
With the 18th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Quinn Priester. Entering the draft many scouts and publications viewed Priester as the top prep arm in the draft.
Since being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates the young righty has shot up prospect boards. Entering the 2021 season Priester was ranked as the 36th best prospect in baseball by FanGraphs, 52nd by MLB Pipeline and 58th by Baseball America. All of this came after an offseason full of praise for Priester.
The 2021 season has been the first full professional season for Priester. Pitching for the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers, Priester has made 13 starts thus far pitching 62 innings. In these 62 innings of work Priester owns a 3.05 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 9.8% walk rate, 21.1% strikeout rate and he’s allowed home runs at a rate of 1.02 HR/9.
In his past 8 starts, however, Priester appears to really be turning a corner. Following a start on June 1 in which Priester allowed 5 runs on 8 hits, 3 of which were home runs, in 4 innings pitched, Priester has been pitching as well as any pitcher in the minors.
Priester has posted a 2.20 ERA allowing just 26 hits and 4 home runs in 41 innings pitched across his last 8 starts. While his 10.5% walk rate during this stretch is higher than you want to see, his strikeout rate has experience a slight uptick climbing to 22.8%.
The 20-year-old Priester is also coming off the best start of his professional career. Last time out Priester pitched 7 full innings for the first time since turning pro. In these 7 innings of work he allowed just 1 run on a single hit, he walked 1 batter and he struck out 5.
Priester has been able to ride his plus fastball and curveball which has elite pitch potential to his success. He has limited opposing batters to just a .212 batting average this season while inducing ground balls at a healthy 55.2% rate. He has also limited quality contact, holding opposing batters to a line drive rate of 17.2%.
At this point Priester is on a strong trajectory, especially after there not being a minor league season in 2019. The Pittsburgh Pirates had Priester skip Low-A and go straight to High-A which has proven to be a wise choice.
Assuming Priester continues to finish the season strong, he should start the 2022 season with Double-A Altoona. This could put Priester in position to reach Triple-A Indianapolis before the end of 2022, allowing him to take dead aim at a June 2023 MLB debut.