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

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.


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


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.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

join the discussion

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’ve no idea if Q will make it. But I’m a sucker for a big curveball so I’ll be pulling for him.


Did the Sheltless one somehow get to GBO today

I saw that Eddie Yean was inserted to protect a 3-2 lead in the 9th
No, please don’t…..

!st batter he fell behind 2-0 SINGLE
2nd batter fell behind 3-0 Walk
3rd batter GONE


Only took 11 pitches, under 5 minutes with clock

The only silver lining, it was over quickly
They didn’t know what hit them

Josh Bell- thats your xmas eve trade mulligan BC


Over / under 1.5

Number of 2023 MLB draft picks who will have a better triple slash line than Nick Gonzales in High A, AA, or AAA


Keston Hiura has posted partial AAA seasons of 155 wRC+ and 204 wRC+ before the 160 wRC+ he’s currenyl posting this year and not one of the 29 teams bit after the Brewers designated him before the season.

Minor league production is meaningless when your flaws are large enough to be exploited by big league arms.


Is that the same guy who’s the most limited defender in MLB?


He’s still a good hitter


James, the designated hitter exists.

I hear you brother, and I hope for the best. But I think you’re trying to force this one a bit.


Also Nick Gonzales had the 6th best wRC+ on his own team last year.

I’m uh, taking the over. How much you wanna bet.




Has Keller been as high up on that off speed list? I feel like his 2 seamer and fastball were just untouchable last few starts. But he may have just had the perfect balance.


Not even close, he’s throwing about 60% fastballs this year but they’re almost equally distributed between 4seamers, sinkers, and cutters.

A godd*mn artist on the mound. I want him to go full-Lance Lynn.


It was the best of times and the worst of times, a tale of two cities or is about the Pirates. The season started and the BUcs were the second best team in baseball even with the loss of Cruz. Then all of a sudden, like a switch was turned, they reverted back to a team in search of a hit or win. When Cruz went down, I thought all hope was lost but they continued to hit and win but now a hit is something they desperately need and Cruz is missed. NOt sure why they stopped hitting but if you look at Haye’s .245 it is one of the better averages on the team. They need help and Shelton is now lost, not knowing what to do to turn this mess around. I guess once a Pirate fan you have to suffer long and hard before anything positive takes hold.


He at least they got it over with quickly, remember the Great Collapsening I and II in 2011 and 2012?

Like those teams, this one just needs better players. They’re better, but don’t yet have the talent to weather the storms.


Hold on who is the absolute UNIT on the mound for Altoona in the clip where Hank guns down the runner at second???




Super, super stoked for what Jones and Ashcraft have done so far this year. Anyone know if Jones has gotten the statcast treatment yet?

Remember when we DIDN’T have pitch data for minor league games? lol


Jesus wept, Tim, if your theory is correct, the Bucs should be the smartest team in all of professional sports!


Remember when Kumar Rocker was the slam dunk #1 choice in the draft. It was just announced that he is having Tommy John surgery.

Draft Crews!


Watching this boring ass team hit is driving home the point to draft Crews. Their pitching isn’t the problem.


Draft Crews!


Hate to be the voice of reality, but both hitters and pitchers drafted high fail to meet expectations on a regular basis.

That being said, Crews is the less risky selection, and we all know the Pirates are first and foremost a risk adverse organization.

So in short, you almost certainly have nothing to worry about.


Historically, hitters perform better. Go with the odds.


By exceptionally slim margins. You don’t create dogma over those odds.


That is all I’ve ever read. Baseball America’s draft book reiterated that, esp in Top 5 selections.

Now when it comes to the Bucs, all bets are off.🤣🤣🤣


Remember how Boras trashed the Mets for wanting to renegotiate the signing deal after they drafted him because of issues with his elbow that cropped up during the physical? Boras claimed Rocker was 100% and no issues or concerns with Rocker’s pitching arm. For Rocker’s sake, I hope he recovers well and has a really good career.


IIRC there were both elbow and shoulder concerns, so hoping for the kid but there could always be another shoe to drop as well


And don’t forget the other Vandy pitcher the same year named Leiter who was drafted #2 right after Davis. He was another can’t miss pitcher who has really struggled getting professional hitters out, although he’s shown some improvement so far this year and the Rangers are still hoping he’ll be able to develop into a major leaguer.

Pitchers are risky and one’s taken toward the top of the draft are especially so because of the investment a team makes. Will Skenes be different? Maybe, but drafting him #1 specially when the near consensus best college hitter in years is there for the taking would not be a smart move.


Remember when Spencer Torkelson broke Barry Bonds’ freshmen home run record and went wire to wire as the top draft prospect while also being billed as the “safest college bat in the draft” and then has gone on to be a complete bust?


He barely has 600 MLB at bats. Let’s wait a few years before breaking out “bust”.


The 23 year old who was pounding the Pirates last night? That one?


You’re free to admit you only watch the Pirates and have no clue what opposing players do outside of those games.


We were panned for passing on Leiter by many a ‘mag’.


I hated Leiter. He looked like he was using every once of his body just to throw hard. Wouldn’t last.


I was comparing him to Lincecum & said he’d never last, but I thought he’d at least make it to the Majors 1st


My thinking as well, but if Skenes keeps dominating like he did against Auburn and Miss. St. (I watched both) he’ll be hard to pass. He was by far the best player on those days, Tre Morgan looked like the best hitter against Auburn Tommy White look best against Miss St.
With that said, still think Crews is the safest and best hitter and who we should draft, but damn Skenes just dominated in those games.


Easy solution. Get a special MLB draft waiver for perennially bad franchises and let us draft both!


Man, do I wish that Nicky G could hit a curve. We could use a power bat at 2b.


Did you see his oppo HR last night? Crushed fastball on outside corner to RF. … and he played SS last night


That’s the pitch and power alley where he does his damage.

He’ll never see one there against big league arms.

Last edited 18 days ago by NMR

Not unless it’s a mistake pitch.


He needs Jobu. Can somebody please find Nicky a live chicken??


“Are you suggesting jesus christ can’t hit a curve ball”


Up your butt Jobu!!!


“It is very bad…..,to steal Jobu’s Rum”

“Tis very bad”


One must never turn one’s back on the infield during batting practice………


I have about 25 on my farm. I know of one that pecks/eats eggs that needs to get gone. Wonder how much shipping would cost?


Let the chicken fly to Indy. 😂😂😂


Wing is clipped. If anyone is swinging through SC heading to Indy let me know. They play Gwinnett but it is at home in Indy. No where else is anywhere near. Any one in Greensboro struggling to hit a curve?


The other chickens in the hen house can’t be liking a cannibal in their midst!


If it wasn’t for my kids she would be at some Little League field helping a 10 years old hit a curve. Crazy thing is chickens are all cannibals. I’ve seen them eat a dead one of their own. And now you know. You are welcome.


Whatever works for Priester, I am all for it!


Priester is the tall projectable rhp the previous regime coveted.

However, instead of just throwing two seamers as the previous regime demanded, he actually starts pitching and uses analytics to develop a game plan using breaking stuff as on out pitch…..

Welcome to 2023…it is about time…..maybe this regime is not so stupid after all.


It is also about pitchers finally getting a bit comfortable and trusting their stuff to where they can quit thinking and just make the pitch in the zone and let the stuff make it miss the bats. Many pitchers know they have the stuff but are afraid to put it through the zone and try to hit the edges of the zone and end up not getting chases and not getting the calls from the umps either.


This is a weird narrative fans tell themselves.

Mitch Keller miraculously learned to trust his stuff the minute he developed his ungodly slider and a filthy 98mph sinker to play off of it.

Tyler Glasnow miraculously learned to trust his stuff as soon as Tampa taught him to backspin his 4seamer and allow his deuce to tunnel off of it.

Even old friend Ground Chuck, noted “head case”, miraculously “gained confidence” the moment he started pumpin 98mph 4seamers at the letters and throwing his electric breaking ball a third of the time.

It is exceptionally rare for a pitcher who actually misses bats to nibble and pitchers who can’t yet still try to pump it over the plate do not exist in the big leagues on account of how severely they would get beaten up.


Yet how many times do coaches say that he needs ‘to trust his stuff’?

I think it’s s a combo of both.


Consider the messaging…could you see any coach saying “his stuff sucks” to the media even when it’s true?

You heard “trust his stuff” constantly in relation to King Nibbler of the Huntington Era, Jeff Locke, and yet the unavoidable reality was that he got lit up any time he actually was over the plate.


Locke = Human Rain Delay

Post Gazette headline:

“Pitch clock forces back rotation starter into early retirement”


My coach used to say MY stuff sucked. 🤣🤣🤣


Grew up in a different time, my friend!


If I was BC I’d be contacting Seattle, they’re getting worse production from 2nd base than the pirates. They also don’t have any prospects close at that position. The pirates haven’t had anyone really stake their claim but have Bae, Castro, Marcano, Nick G, Liover, Mathias, and Triolo either on the 40 man or in Indy.
Get talks started early so we don’t go through the season and just lose 1 or 2 like last year and hopefully get some value back. Marcano and Triolo are the only 2 that might be able to handle short in a backup roll. Bae, Marcano, Mathias, and Triolo can play some outfield. Most could be put at third, where Triolo is way above average defensively.
Maybe they can make a deal by the deadline or have someone’s play decide the position.


Find a 19yo with super raw tools and potential and get this deal done!


I’d like a trade of Nick G. for Woo or Hancock and swapping comp picks 30 and 67.
Or Nick G. for pick 30 and the 19yo or 2.
Hope he can start hitting more and k’n less.
Hopefully one or two of our guys can start separating themselves. I also think Marcano is stepping into the super utility role or at least the 26th man on the roster.


Im sure most of the league knows about his K issues, but wouldnt mind selling ‘high’ on him if theres a team that thinks they can fix him as I dont know hes going to do much to increase value from here on out


Priester will be a solid #3 pitcher for the Pirates in a couple of years. I think the rotation is going to be very solid in the coming years. It’s the hitters that are a concern. No production from the corners, and still a major need at other positions. The Pirates can’t truly expect to compete when you dumpster dive and put together a roster of castoffs and AAAA players. The Pirates should have had a lot more homegrown talent ready to fill roster spots by now, but they don’t. I seriously think BC has only done an average job as a GM. As for Nicky G., I absolutely think he gets a shot by July or August, but I also think his ceiling is only that of a platoon player/backup. He strikes out way too much and simply can’t hit breaking/off speed pitches. And that’s always been an ominous sign for the upside of prospects.

Last edited 19 days ago by gosteelers69

There was a dearth if hitting and pitching prospects when BC started. It’s hard to get both in trade in 3 years, yet He traded for half the rotation and Endy. As for the draft, it’s not a reasonable expectation for very many BC draft picks to be in the majors yet but Henry Davis is clearly ready as a hitter.

Average is fine anyways, though I think he’s better than that. The pirates are the pirates. Average means better than 15 other teams.



Pirates Prospects Daily



Latest articles

Latest comments

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x