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Pirates Prospects Daily: A Familiar System Trend In Quinn Priester’s Start

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Stop me if you have heard this one: A pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization puts in a great outing by using a higher rate of breaking pitches than fastballs.

Quinn Priester turned in one of his most impressive outings in his entire minor league career, pitching seven innings of one-run baseball, striking out nine — which is one behind his career high.

After allowing the first two hitters on base with singles against fastballs, Priester leaned heavily on his breaking pitches to not only get out of the inning, but to strikeout the next six batters he would face.

In total he threw his slider and curveball a total of 44 times, picking up a 58.8% (14-of-24) whiff rate with the pitches, while also racking up a 43.1 CSW% as well.

On the other side, he threw a combination of 29 fastball and sinkers, getting four whiffs on 19 swings (21 Whiff%) and just a 20.6 CSW%.

Priester had been relying a lot on the fastball and sinker in his last few starts, with varying success, but turned on another gear with the high breaking pitch usage.

In general, Priester hasn’t put up the most impressive swing and miss numbers this season, but taking this approach certainly yielded better results.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s come to this, as we’ve already seen it at the major league level with players like Roansy Contreras and Johan Oviedo.

Contreras has one of the highest usage rates when it comes to his slider in all of the majors and Oviedo has seen varying amounts of success when it comes to leading with his breaking pitches.

Priester always seems like he is at work, trying to craft, and perfect, the best version of himself on the mound. A brief look at his pitch usage throughout the season and this is easily the most he’s used the curveball, and first time it hasn’t been one of his fastballs leading the way.

The next step would be to try it again, and see if he can have the same kind of success with it. Vince Velasquez is throwing again, and Luis Ortiz is getting a shot in the rotation while he is out.

After that there isn’t much in the terms of viable options with JT Brubaker and Mike Burrows out for the season. The Pirates won’t rush him but outings like this could help him find his way to the majors before the season is out.

Prospect Notes

Nick Gonzales picked up a double against a slider tonight, just his fourth hit of the season facing a breaking ball – and first that went for extra-bases.

He also struck out twice, against a slider and curveball, so not much has really changed at this point. Gonzales finding any semblance of an ability to hit a breaking ball really can complete change the make up of the Pirates roster.

He’ll punish you for leaving a fastball over the plate, but outside of that, still a lot of work.

— Priester wasn’t the only one putting in a strong pitching effort in the system Tuesday night, as Jared Jones put in four solid innings, striking out seven while only walking one. He stranding runners on second and third with no outs by striking out a pair and getting a ground out.

Jones has just one walk in his last 11.1 innings that has spanned three starts. A lot of pitchers in the uppers levels are struggling to get whiffs with the fastball, he isn’t one of them.

— Not sure how far they want to push Braxton Ashcraft this season coming off of Tommy John, but I’d imagine they would love a scenario where he joins Jones in the Altoona rotation by the end of the year.

After taking the week off on the Development List, the righty from Texas returned and struck out three of three innings, allowing just a lone hit.

Daily Video Rundown

Both Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis hit home runs for their respective teams Tuesday night. For Endy it was his fourth of the season, while Davis launched his ninth.

Davis also got to flash the arm as well, throwing out a base runner trying to steal second.

PIRATES PROSPECTS DAILY

By Tim Williams

Back in March, there was an entire week where I laid around all day doing one thing: Deliberately losing in chess.

I would send my king charging out into the middle of the battlefield and see how long it would take to get checkmated. Or, I would quickly go down seven points, and just start giving pieces away until it was a no-win situation. In any case, I only cared about the game when it got to massive comeback time. At best, I would force a draw via stalemate when the other side was +23. I’d often learn ways to take a few angular pieces, or the best moves to avoid checkmate against power pieces.

Ultimately, I was learning tactics to make a comeback while I was losing.

It’s not great to practice losing. Ultimately, I’d like to win at chess. However, losing is part of every game, and it’s impossible to be perfect.

Two months later, and all of those losses in March have allowed me to better avoid losing positions, while also knowing how to turn them around quicker. Essentially, when I see the opponent is +7, I still know this game is mine.

The Pirates have been losing a lot. Hopefully these losses teach them something which will lead to wins in a few months. This was always going to be a wild ride to 79 wins, folks. My prediction is they’ll become less volatile during the summer, and will surge in the final months. They might even exceed my pre-season projection. Maintaining a positive mindset following this losing stretch will be important.

Pirates Recap: Pirates Offensive Woes in May Continue With Loss to Detroit

Prospect Watch: Strong Starting Pitching and Dingerz Provide Some Highlights

SONG OF THE DAY

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Anthony Murphy
Anthony Murphy
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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