I try to temper my enthusiasm for prospects, it’s just good practice both for writing about the team and for that matter being a fan. First of all, rarely do prospects reach MLB and become transformative players, well, at least in Pittsburgh anyway. And on top of that it’s an incredibly long road filled with obstacles and pitfalls, many of which aren’t controllable. All that said, Quinn Priester is the real deal and rather than wondering if he’ll get here, I’m more focused on when.
You don’t have to take it from me.
As we’ve said multiple times, we don’t really know what the instructs mean, but everyone from Fangraphs on down is enamored with what Mr. Priester got done there last season.
In this business, there is reading what one expert has to say and parroting it and then there is something like this, where I spend an hour looking for someone who doesn’t feel the same and give up.
I went to his first game as a member of the West Virginia Black Bears in State College against the Spikes. He only pitched four innings and gave up three runs on three hits and four walks. He even hit a guy.
It was his first game at a new level, I didn’t expect brilliance, what I wanted to see were the pitch mix, the control, the power, and I got to see all that in the form of his 4 strikeouts.
These weren’t just blowing the fastball past everyone, no these came from a stubbornness to stick with his Curveball that had completely abandoned him early in the contest. It was the mental toughness to identify what he was doing wrong and course correct right there in the contest.
Funny thing is, it was total dumb luck I was there. I was in State College on business and was going to check out the Spikes and Black Bears anyway, Priester was an unannounced starter for this game, and I remember calling my wife like I just won the lottery.
He can hit the upper 90’s with his 4 seam fastball that rides movement with it. His mid 90’s 2 seam induces ground balls and falls away from lefties and bruises ankles on righties. His Curveball drops the velocity down to 80 has a great plane and will be his primary out pitch. More than anything though, his maturity stood out to me.
When you watch minor league baseball with regularity you teach yourself to look for nuggets. Like you may observe some bad mechanics or poor results, but you watch them through the lens of understanding those wrinkles will get ironed out. After all if they were MLB players they wouldn’t be in MiLB.
Priester left me feeling like he learned a ton in that one contest. In 4 innings I watched a guy have almost no control and miss almost all his spots, evolve himself into looking like he’d dominate the league by the end.
I guess what I’m saying here is, it’s ok to be excited about this guy, he’s worth it, and he’s as real as real gets.