Nine straight strikeouts.
That is what the Pirates’ top pitching prospect, Quinn Priester accomplished Friday night. Priester, with the Pirates’ High-A affiliate Greensboro, has put on a dazzling display of pitching in two of his last three starts and seems to be heating up at the right time. The two starts for Priester that are being mentioned took place on Aug 13th and Aug 27th. Priester combined to pitch 13 innings in those two starts, gave up seven hits, no earned runs, two walks, and 23 strikeouts.
Priester, who stands 6-foot-3, weighing in at 210 pounds, has found himself atop of the Pirates’ prospects in terms of pitching talent. Priester has a four-pitch mix with a 4-seam (55/55 fv), curveball (70/80 fv), cutter (50/60 fv), plus a newfound slider that, if the futures game is any indication, tops out around 91 MPH. (FanGraphs does not recognize Priester’s slider as of yet.)
Priester’s main issue is his command of the strike zone. While there has been some poor umpiring that has worked against him, as a whole, Priester has struggled with command. To his credit, he has mentioned several times that his main focus is on his command, and recently he has harnessed his control. In the month of August, his walk numbers are down to just five, and Priester is starting to keep his pitches down in the zone.
Branching off into Priester’s ability to keep the ball down in the zone, it is extremely crucial for him to continue this trend in Greensboro. Greensboro’s park is a hitters haven, so the less a ball is left slightly up, the less you will see the ball get smashed into the sun. If you look at Priester’s numbers away from home, you will start to see a trend that is pleasant to the eyes.
In the 43.2 innings Priester has pitched, he’s only given up six earned runs while striking out 54, walking 13, and allowing 29 hits. His home numbers are a bit uglier: 41.1 innings, 21 earned runs, 33 strikeouts, 17 walks, and 38 hits given up. If you’re thinking Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, then you would be right; it indeed is the best of times and the worst of times looking at those splits.
The young man from Cary Illinois, will most likely start 2022 in the double-A affiliate Altoona next year at age 21. One tends to wonder how Priester will handle a more advanced set of opponents while playing in another hitter-friendly ballpark in Altoona. If the start on Friday night and Aug 20th are any indication, the word that comes to mind is hopeful.