Quinn Priester and Endy Rodriguez have been terrific at Double-A. Could they make their Triple-A debuts this September?
Two of the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects have done well in their time at Double-A Altoona. They are catcher Endy Rodriguez and starting pitcher Quinn Priester. Now, granted, both Priester and Rodriguez have a small sample size in Altoona, especially Rodriguez, but since Altoona’s season ends about a week-and-a-half before Triple-A Indianapolis’, could this duo see a few games at Indy before the end of 2022?
Priester got off to a late start to the 2022 campaign. He made his debut in early June after an oblique strain, but after a few rehab starts, he returned to Altoona with heat. He’s made ten starts with 50.1 innings, posting a 2.50 ERA, 3.19 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP. He’s struck out just over a quarter of the batters he’s faced with a 25.5% strikeout rate and has a quality 7.4% walk rate. Priester has always gotten a ton of ground balls, which has continued into 2022. He has a 51.1% ground ball rate which has helped Priester keep a 0.54 HR/9 rate.
Priester has steadily climbed through the Pirate system. He performed well last year for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Priester’s strikeout rate is up from last year, while his walk and home run rates are both down from 2021. He’s only pitched ten games at Altoona, but he’s definitely on pace to make the major leagues sometime in early 2023. If he’s healthy, I don’t see a reason why not to get him in a few games at Indianapolis.
Rodriguez was recently promoted to Altoona. He started off the 2022 campaign with High-A Greensboro and demolished the ball to a .302/.392/.544 line, .413 wOBA, and 149 wRC+. Rodriguez walked at an 11.4% rate with a strikeout rate of just 20.8%. That strikeout rate might be a bit high for him, but he only had a strikeout rate of 17.9% from April onward.
Since the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted Rodriguez to altoona, he has collected at least one hit in each game he has played. He also has four walks to just five strikeouts. In total, he has 13 hits in just 40 trips to the plate. Six of those hits have gone for extra bases with four doubles and two home runs. The small sample size has led to a phenomenal 199 wRC+. Since the outset of the all-star break, Rodriguez is batting .420 with a .510 on-base percentage, .827 slugging, and 247 wRC+. It is only 98 plate appearances, but his wRC+ in this stretch is higher than Barry Bonds in 2001 when he hit 73 dingers.
Like with Priester, if Rodriguez is healthy, there’s no big reason to give him the playing time at Indy. He completely deserved it. When you’re batting nearly 150% better than the league average batter for nearly a month, you need to give that guy the deserved promotion when the time is right.