On Monday afternoon, Baseball America posted an article looking at 19 MLB prospect who impressed during instructional league action last month. The Pittsburgh Pirates had one player on that list and he received some high praise.
Right-handed pitcher Quinn Priester was the first round draft pick of the Pirates in 2019, taken 18th overall. He pitched well for the GCL Pirates after signing, then finished up his first pro season with a start two levels higher in Morgantown. Priester was a late addition to the Alternative Training Site in Altoona this summer. He was there for almost a full month, then went down to Bradenton with about 60 players total and put in another four weeks of action, seeing opposing teams for the first time in a year. According to Priester, he pitched about 15-17 innings total in games between both stops and he got to face both the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles in instructs.
In Monday’s BA article, they had this quote about Priester and his place among all of the pitchers in Florida instructs:
Evaluators considered him arguably the top pitcher in Florida and didn’t hesitate to put front-of-the-rotation projections on him.
There were immediate reports that he hit 98 MPH during his first sim game action in Altoona, then later reached 99 MPH. Tim Williams talked to him shortly after he arrived in Altoona and had two articles, one for Pittsburgh Baseball Network and the other for Baseball America. In the first one they discussed what led to that velocity increase, how his pitches were performing, his developmental focus this year, and whether he had been focusing on the trend of shortening his arm action. The BA article focused on him staying prepared during the shutdown, working on maintaining his velocity, and improving his changeup.
That praise that BA received from evaluators is going to help the prospect stock for Priester, who was on the outside of most top 100 lists coming into this year. There was quite a large group of prospects in Florida in October, so that is indeed high praise. Calling him (without hesitation) someone who projects as a front-of-the-rotation starter puts it into even better perspective. That tag doesn’t get thrown around freely.
Under normal circumstances, Priester would likely be opening up 2021 in Bradenton, so that’s what I expect to see. That’s mostly based off of the old front office timeline, though he would have still be working up to a full season workload as a starter in 2020 in Greensboro (where he was slated to start), so any time he spent in Bradenton (not guaranteed) would have been limited as well. I wouldn’t rule out Altoona at some point in 2021, especially if he continues to develop his game at an advanced pace.