The Pittsburgh Pirates are in desperate need of a star starting pitcher and top pitching prospect Quinn Priester is bound to succeed at the Major League level in 2023. Does he have the ability to be in the Rookie of the Year conversation during the 2023 season?
After being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft, many Pittsburgh Pirates fans had high hopes for Illinois native Quinn Priester. Priester was arguably the best prep arm coming out of high school in the 2019 draft, and he showed off his potential during his first professional season in Rookie Ball.
The 18-year-old Priester started off hot, putting up a solid stat line that season. In 32.2 innings pitched, Priester had a 3.03 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 37 strikeouts,10 walks, and a 1.19 WHIP. This was a sign of things to come for the Young Buc.
Following this dominant debut, Priester missed his 2020 season due to the pandemic. With no minor league season, Priester found a way to continue improving his pitching arsenal and impressed the coaching staff significantly. He also increased the velocity of his pitches in 2020 and his hard work is currently paying off.
Take a look at this: the 6'3" Priester has a very intriguing pitching repertoire that consists of a 97 MPH four-seam fastball, a mid 90s two-seam fastball, and his bread-and-butter pitch; a dominant 78-82 MPH curveball with lots of vertical break. He also added an upper 80s cutter/slider to compliment his lights out fastball during his time in the Alternate Training Site in 2020.
Furthermore, Priester has a decent sinker, and a below-average vulcan changeup, but both pitches need more development. With a little more fine-tuning, Priester's repertoire has All-Star potential written all over it.
Unlike a lot of prep arms coming out of high school, Priester didn't need a lot of development and continued to rise through the minor leagues, posting solid numbers in his first full season in High-A Greensboro. Due to his success, Priester represented the Pirates in the 2021 Futures Game and has been a consensus top 5 prospect in our farm system since 2020.
Throughout his time in the minor leagues, Priester became a very solid groundball pitcher and has barely allowed home runs due to increased control of his pitches. In 2022, he had his best minor league season to date in Double-A Altoona, posting a 2.87 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 75 strikeouts, 22 walks, and a 1.19WHIP across 75.1 innings pitched, and was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis to close out the season. Very impressive numbers for a player that was recovering from an oblique injury just before his AA promotion. His stats would've been substantially better, if not for Priester giving up 7ER in his final start, ballooning his ERA from 2.15 before his start to 2.87 afterward.
Looking at his track record, this kid is almost Major League ready and has the potential to be a solid no. 2-3 starter for the Buccos, or even the future ace of this franchise. At just 22 years old, the potential is there for Priester to break out in the Major Leagues, and is most likely going to be the 2nd pitching prospect to debut behind Mike Burrows. As long as he develops nicely to Triple-A batters, Priester is bound to get the callup and debut in 2023.
Many Pirate fans want to see what he can do, especially since he's the top pitching prospect in our farm system. Priester will have to compete with other top prospects like Alek Thomas in order to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, but that isn't going to stop him from continuing to put his best foot forward and continue being a dominant pitcher. As you can see from his past seasons, the potential is there, and I have no doubt in my mind that if Priester puts his mind to something, he WILL achieve it.