Quinn Priester's first opportunity to put a foot toward a rotation spot

Sep 30, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Quinn Priester (64)
Sep 30, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Quinn Priester (64) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn Priester is competing for a spot in the Pirate starting rotation, and he gets his first chance to impress in Grapefruit League action on Wednesday afternoon

Entering the spring, the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to see multiple battles in camp. One of these battles would be for the final two spots in the team's starting rotation behind Mitch Keller, Marco Gonzales, and Martín Pérez.

A handful of pitchers find themselves competing for these final two spots, one of which is right-hander Quinn Priester. The team's first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, Priester saw his first taste of MLB action last season but struggled.

In 10 games, 8 starts, Priester pitched 50 MLB innings last season. Priester struggled mightily, posting a 7.74 ERA, 6.74 FIP, 2.19 HR/9, and -0.9 WAR. Opposing batters hit .284 off of Priester, he walked 11.5% of opposing batters, and struck opponents out at just a 15.4% clip. It was an all-around struggle for Priester.

In Tuesday's 13-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves, Luis Ortiz, who is also competing for the final two spots in the Pirate rotation had a strong showing. Ortiz's fastball velocity was up and looked explosive the way it did in September 2022. You can read more about that game and Ortiz's outing here. This came one day after Roansy Contreras flashed and impressed in his first Grapefruit League outing on Monday.

Even before they pitched in Grapefruit League games reports out of Bradenton were that both Contreras and Ortiz looked impressive in bullpen sessions and live BP. Reports also were that the stuff appeared to have ticked back up to where it was before 2023 for both Contreras and Ortiz. Combine this with strong game outings from both of them, and Priester will now feel the pressure to match what those two have done thus far in the spring.

Priester's biggest issue last season was his fastball. For a few years his four-seam fastball has been a pitch that has been flat, and did not look like a MLB quality pitch. Well, last season those fears came to fruition as opposing batters hit .386 and slugged .818 off the pitch. The fastball woes trickled down to his other pitches. Other than his changeup (.316) opposing batters slugged at least .409 off of each of Priester's pitches.

Pitch Type

Opposing Slugging Percentage





Four-Seamed Fastball






If Priester's stuff does not improve this season, then it is hard to envision him being in the team's starting rotation or finding success on the mound. While statistics in Spring Training games mean very little, results and performance matter, and results/performan do not always equate to what a player's stats are. This will make it worth watching to see what Priester's stuff looks like this spring, starting with his first Grapefruit League start on Wednesday afternoon.

First pitch for the Pirates and Detroit Tigers from LECOM Park in Bradenton is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. You will be able to listen to the game on the MLB At-Bat App.

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