The Pirates are calling up another of their top prospects, as Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter links) that right-hander Quinn Priester is expected to make his MLB debut on Monday in a start against the Guardians. The Bucs will need to make moves to both clear space on the active roster and open a spot for Priester on the 40-man roster.
The 22-year-old Priester was the 18th overall pick of the 2019 draft, and both MLB Pipeline and The Athletic’s Keith Law ranked him within their preseason top-100 prospects lists in each of the last three years. Pipeline currently has Priester rated 54th among all prospects in baseball, describing him as “super-athletic on the mound and at times has shown he can be a very efficient strike-thrower.”
Priester made his Triple-A debut in 2022, albeit tossing only 9 1/3 innings at the Pirates’ top affiliate. It was something of a compressed year overall for Priester since he missed the first two months of the 2022 campaign due to an oblique injury, and his 90 1/3 total innings last season were spread over four different minor league levels. The righty’s first full Triple-A season hasn’t exactly been dominant, as Priester has a 4.31 ERA over 87 2/3 innings, with a modest 22.4% strikeout rate and 9.3% walk rate. A grounder specialist, Priester has a 53.8% groundball rate and a .316 BABIP this year, which could lend itself to his only okay Triple-A numbers.
Priester has a four-pitch repertoire, headlined by a plus curveball and a good changeup. His fastball draws somewhat mixed reviews, as Law feels “he’ll probably have to emphasize his offspeed stuff over his 92-96 mph fastball, which plays down from its velocity.” On the flipside, Pipeline gives Priester’s fastball a 60-grade, and feels he can add more velocity over time.
Before Paul Skenes was drafted first overall last week, Priester had been the top pitching prospect in Pittsburgh’s farm system, and he’ll now become the latest member of the Pirates’ youth movement to make his debut in the Show. Given how injuries have thinned out the rotation, Priester will get plenty of chances to stick around if he pitches well, and more opportunity might emerge after the trade deadline if Rich Hill is dealt elsewhere.