Don’t Count Quinn Priester Out Due to Low Strikeouts

Quinn Priester had quite the season last year, despite a late start after an injury delaying his move to the mound.

Spending the majority of the season in Altoona, Priester posted a 3.29 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 90.1 innings pitched. He was even better when just looking at his Double-A numbers (2.87 ERA in 75.1 IP), as a rough rehab start in Greensboro as well as his last start of the season inflated his numbers.

Regardless, Priester was recognized as the Pirates Pitcher of the Year by the organization for his overall body of work, and even made some of those innings back in the Arizona Fall League.

Despite all of that, Priester took a hit in a lot of the national prospect outlets, dropping off quite a few Top 100 lists.

While prospect list ultimately isn’t what makes a player great, it is interesting to see his lack of ranking. Despite the success he had last year, and at  the usually top prospect defining Double-A level, the hype seems to be cooling around Priester.

Fangraphs had an interesting note of ‘scouts like Priester, pitch data does not’ and it makes sense. The righty has the build of a starting pitcher with one of the best curveballs in the minors and has added a slider since being drafted, giving him pitches to work with getting hitters out.

He also had a ground ball rate of 50.6%, which was the 70th best mark among the 517 pitchers who threw at least 80 innings in the minors last season.

Strikeouts aren’t the say all, be all when it comes to pitchers. Talent evaluators certainly like to see prospects generate as much swing and miss as they can. If a player is struggling to strike out hitters in A-Ball and Double-A, then the chances he’s going to do so once he makes the majors isn’t too great.

Priester has hovered around about a strikeout per inning the last two years (187 strikeouts in 188 innings), which isn’t great, but maybe not what you want to see out of a top prospect, or someone projected to be a front of the rotation starter.

That being said, there may be a reason to believe that there is more there for Priester when it comes to strikeouts.

QUINN PRIESTER 2022 Statistic Percentile
Swinging Strike% 13.6% 69th
K% 23.6% 49th
BB% 8.0% 62nd
WHIP 1.21 76th
xFIP 4.04 73rd

There was a lot to like about Priester, and the strikeouts are the one thing that you’d want to see improved. These percentile rankings are based on the 517 players who pitched at least 80 innings in the minors last year.

Even if Priester wasn’t getting a lot of strikeouts, he was generating a decent amount of swing and miss on hitters.

While Priester seems like the kind of pitcher that can have success, regardless if he puts up eye popping strikeout numbers, being able to dig deep and come away with one in a big situation would be huge.

As part of every minor leaguer’s journey, Priester’s game continues to evolve. He came into the system mostly a fastball/curveball guy, and has since really incorporated the sinker and slider, along with a changeup.

With him continuing to learn what works best for him, eventually he should gain the experience to properly put some of that swing and miss stuff together to put hitters away. If that happens, Priester’s game could take off even further.

The Pirates built some decent rotation depth this season, with a couple of other prospects already on the 40-man roster. There won’t be any pressure on Priester to do anything other than continue to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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I’m extremely bullish on Pirates SP. QP, Burrows, Ortiz, and Oviedo all look really good. Maybe not great, but certainly in the 3.5 – 4.0 xFIP range. Guys who can win you games no matter who’s opposing them most nights.

I have even higher expectations for Chandler. He’s a future Cy Young candidate type arm.


Chandler is going to be a full time pitcher, is this new?


Kinda bummed. I was looking forward to typing Bubba Ohtani for years to come. However, this should accelerate his movement in the system.


Honestly beginning to have the slightest tinge of regret over universal DH.

Practically impossible for a pitcher to develop his bat enough to DH, but could be a legitimate weapon relative to other pictures who stopped even trying.



I believe that is new for this season. Just saw that as well.;


Was hoping that would happen, so I’m excited to see him as a full time pitcher, I think he’s gonna be a monster, AA cameo this year unless he reaches his inning’s max.


Right on, Anth.

Priester is just getting a three-year headstart on the Mitch Keller plan.


So we should look forward to Keller being dealt this summer and QP stepping right in to Mitch’s spot?


That’s the guy I was going to mentioned in my earlier comment, but change my mind after comparing how fast they throw.


I want to say it was Tim when ask for a comp mentioned Taillon, not a front guy, but a good pitcher.

Tim Williams

I draw the Taillon comp for the specific ability they each share to teach themselves new things.

That’s huge. We treat these players like static simulations who never develop further than the point when we see them.

I’m less concerned with Priester’s stats, knowing his mindset, drive, and demonstrated abilities with both. He will improve his game, regardless of stats. He will find a way to recover from a setback.


On the upside, the odds that he’ll have Taillon’s rotten luck are low. It’s hard to honestly assess Taillon, especially from his time as a Pirate. Mind you, there’s a good chance he still finishes as 20 or even 25 WAR player. Fringe 30 WAR with a couple of upside surprises.

On balance, if Taillon is the comp, I can live in that baseball universe.


This is a great point. His ability to evolve could make him very successful as a Pirate.

Tim Williams

In a league, and really, a world that changes every few years, the ability to evolve might be the only ability that really matters. It’s treated like a bonus.

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