Pirates Go Back To The Well To Draft Quinn Priester

The Pirates don’t shy away from high school righthanders.

They chose Jameson Taillon No. 2 overall in 2010 and Shane Baz No. 12 overall in 2017. They drafted Tyler Glasnow in the fifth round in 2011 and Mitch Keller in the second round in 2014.

This year they added another first-round prep righthander, taking Quinn Priester No. 18 overall.

The interesting thing about Priester, a product of Cary-Grove High in Cary, Ill., is that he’s never had a dedicated pitching coach. Instead he has turned to social media and YouTube to study pitcher mechanics to teach himself.

“It’s just more of learning visually from other people who are the best in the game,” Priester said. “For me, it was on YouTube, looking up slow-motion videos, Pitching Ninja, that sort of thing. If I could pick up one little thing to make me better, it would absolutely be worth it.”

Priester added strength in his lower half in 2019, leading to a velocity increase that saw him hit 97 mph. He also found a changeup grip he’s comfortable with, and he has started developing that pitch.

Priester’s curveball can be a future plus pitch, and he considers it his best pitch right now. That combination of pitches gives him a head start toward the majors as he enters pro ball in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

The Pirates have a policy in which they evaluate new players for several months before making adjustments, so Priester hasn’t received any notable changes from his first pitching coaches. He made his pro debut in July, giving up one run in 2.1 innings, with two strikeouts and one walk.

Priester’s stuff looked good in the brief debut in the GCL, with a fastball that sat 91-92 mph with good movement and topped out at 94. His curveball showed slurve action, working around 80 mph, and his changeup sat in the mid-80s. He used it to strike out his final batter on a 3-2 pitch.

Time will tell if Priester becomes the next Pirates pitching prospect to become one of the top prospects in the game, but his early results hint at his promise.


— The Pirates drafted Florida State outfielder/righthander J.C. Flowers in the fourth round as a pitcher. Scouting director Joe DelliCarri said that Flowers preferred to pitch, and that the Pirates will develop him as a starter, even though he served as closer for FSU. He signed for $40,000 over his slot amount.

— The Pirates promoted righthander James Marvel to Triple-A Indianapolis after he put up a 3.16 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 99.2 innings for Double-A Altoona. Marvel was the 36th-round pick in 2015, going low because he was recovering Tommy John surgery. He’s got a heavy sinkerball that induces a lot of ground balls, and his curveball has improved to become one of the best in the Pirates’ system. His changeup has also improved, and has given him a second groundball pitch.

Marvel should reach the majors as at worst a middle reliever due to his sinker, but he could remain a starter in the majors if the curveball and changeup continue to develop.

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