Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Previewing Quinn Priester’s 2022

DENVER, CO - JULY 11: Quinn Priester #40 of National League Futures Team pitches against the American League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 11: Quinn Priester #40 of National League Futures Team pitches against the American League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates right-handed prospect Quinn Priester has had a fantastic 2021 season. Now the question becomes where should he start the 2022 season?

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-hander Quinn Priester with the 19th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Overall, he was considered the best high school-level arm in that 2019 MLB Draft.

Priester’s stock since then has skyrocketed. Most of that came this past offseason as he went from a borderline top 100 prospect to a top 60 prospect across the board. So far, he’s had a fine season at High-A Greensboro. But he’s still very young. He won’t turn 21 until September 16. With him being so young, it may come into play as to where he starts the 2022 season.

In 91 innings, Priester has looked every part of his ace-level potential. He has a 2.67 ERA, 3.99 FIP and 1.15 WHIP. Priester has struck out 25.2% of batters faced while keeping a solid 8.9% walk rate. Home runs haven’t been that big of an issue for the talented right-hander. He currently has a 0.79 HR/9 rate. Though it’s not out of the question that could sit around .5. He’s induced ground balls at an outstanding 55.2% rate. Plus he has a sub-20% line drive rate.

Priester has really kicked things up a notch in the second half of this year. His past 48 innings have yielded a 2.06 ERA, 3.44 FIP, and .98 WHIP. Priester’s strikeout rate has risen to 28.8% while having an 8.7% walk rate. Home runs have pretty much been a non-issue for him. He’s surrendered just 3 for a 0.59 HR/9.

He did get off to a sluggish start to 2021, but that shouldn’t be a big concern. With no 2020 minor league season, many minor league players were bound to get off to a slow start. Even then, it’s not like he was awful with a solid 3.35 ERA, 4.61 FIP and 1.35 WHIP through 43 innings.

Priester can run things up into the upper-90’s with his four seam fastball. He usually averages out in the 94-97 MPH range, but has hit 99 MPH. It’s considered an above average offering with a 55-future grade. He also throws a cutter, one that FanGraphs projects as a 60-grade offering.

His changeup is more of a work in progress more than anything else, but it’s his curveball that gets a ton of attention. It comes in the low-80’s with harder break than Adam Wainwright’s (although it does have similar shape, according to FanGraphs). FanGraphs goes so far as to say it’s the best curveball in baseball. It currently sits with a 70-grade, but once all things are said and done, it could be an 80-grade pitch. 80 is the best possible grade a tool, or pitch can get. So needless to say, it’s a good offering he can rely on.

Priester will start 2022 at age-21. That’s still very young, and getting promoted to Double-A is a big step forward from High-A. While starting at High-A isn’t out of the question, getting him started at Double-A isn’t either. Afterall, they sent Roansy Contreras to Double-A during his age-21 season.

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With a pitcher like Priester, he’s one that you can push through the minors a bit more aggressively because of his high-level talent. Priester has done enough at High-A to warrant starting 2022 at Double-A. If he keeps performing as he has there, then he might get a call to Triple-A later in the season. He should be promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates some time in mid-2023, maybe even late 2022 if he performs that well.

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