CHICAGO – Quinn Priester received the thrill of a lifetime Thursday when former major league All-Star Sean Casey told the Cary-Grove senior he’d be starting the Under Armour All-America baseball game at Wrigley Field.
“The nerves kind of came up right away,” said Priester, a TCU commit. “Then it was a lot of excitement.”
Pitching on the national stage in front of former big leaguers, scouts and 40 to 50 family members, including his mother, Chris; father, Andy; and sister, Madison; Priester felt right at home Friday.
Many more fans wearing Cary-Grove blue and white and shouting “Q!” and “Hey, Quinn!” were among the game’s loudest spectators.
The 6-foot-3 right-hander flashed a 93 mph fastball in his only inning, tossing nine of 16 pitches for strikes in a scoreless top of the first. Priester struck out his final batter before running off the Wrigley Field mound to cheers from family and friends and fist bumps from teammates.
Priester reared back for a 93 mph fastball on his second-to-last pitch before going off-speed to fool American team outfielder and Texas A&M commit Logan Britt on a pitch that nibbled the dirt. The American team beat Priester’s National team, 8-2.
Priester, a lifelong Cubs fan, said pitching on the same mound as some of his idols was a surreal experience.
“I’ve grown up a Cubs fan all my life, going to Cubs games and watching all of the greats throw,” Priester said. “Jake Arrieta is my favorite pitcher. Jon Lester ... all of those guys, I’ve grown up watching. For me to get the opportunity to pitch on the same mound as they do is special.”
Andy Priester took pictures of his son during pregame warmups to capture the moment.
“It’s a little bit crazy, isn’t it? Being a Midwest kid and end up being on the national stage like he’s doing,” Andy Priester said. “It’s all about the relationships, it’s about the hard work, and the fact that he’s put himself in a position to do this.
“As parents, we’re unbelievably proud.”
Chris Priester texted her son some words of encouragement only hours before his start. She was predictably nervous for Quinn.
“I told him, ‘Don’t let the stage be bigger than having fun,’ ” she said. “ ‘You’ve just got to enjoy this opportunity and live in the moment, because how many kids get this? Have fun, and soak it in.’ ”
Priester’s Wrigley Field debut was his second time in as many months pitching in a big-league stadium. He previously pitched in a showcase at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
On Aug. 12, Priester will compete in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego.
Only 40 high schoolers from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico were chosen to compete under the bright lights of Wrigley Field. Quinn Priester doesn’t take any of it for granted.
“It means a lot to me because of all of the hard work I’ve put in,” Priester said. “Getting to play against some of the country’s top players is special. It makes all of the hard work that goes into it worth it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Priester is ranked among the top right-handed pitchers in the Class of 2019 by multiple talent and scouting evaluators, including Perfect Game USA and Baseball Factory. Priester’s fastball has been clocked as high as 95 mph, and his arsenal also features a two-seam fastball, curve and changeup.
Priester said he put on some extra weight this summer for strength and to add more velocity to his pitches. He also will be the starting quarterback for his high school football team this fall. C-G is coming off a 7-4 season.
Going as far in the postseason is always the goal in football, Priester said, but he has bigger dreams on the baseball field.
“In the end, playing major league baseball is my dream,” Priester said. “However that route takes me, that’s the goal.”