Surrounded by his friends and family at home in Cary, Quinn Priester “was speechless” when he received the call Monday.
The Pittsburgh Pirates picked the recent Cary-Grove graduate with the 18th overall selection in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“I’m fired up,” Priester said Monday night. “They’re a great organization. I’m fired up that they’re giving me a chance to hopefully become a starter in their organization. I’m just ready to get to work.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Priester just finished his high school baseball career Saturday during a 5-4 loss to Hampshire in an IHSA Class 4A sectional championship matchup.
Priester’s mid-90s mph fastball has been catching scouts' eyes since the summer after his freshman year of high school, when he earned his first college scholarship offer from Northwestern. Draft buzz picked up considerably in July 2018 when Priester started the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field.
Priester’s starts for C-G drew keen interest from major league scouts all spring. The Pirates no doubt liked what they saw.
The 18-year-old Priester watched the draft with about 50 friends and family, including his parents, Chris and Andy Priester, and his sister, Madison Priester.
“Not many people have the opportunity to experience this moment,” Andy Priester said. “We’re so thankful, we’re so happy and proud of Quinn for working hard enough to get to this point.”
Added Chris Priester: “It was a culmination of a lot of years of good, hard work – traveling all over, washing baseball pants, packing coolers, all those things you do.”
Quinn Priester said he visited Pittsburgh once when Madison, now 21, was on a college visit.
“It’s a beautiful city, a beautiful town,” Quinn Priester said. “PNC Park is one of the best in Major League Baseball. It’s fantastic.”
He becomes the first high school player from Illinois to be selected in the first round since the Houston Astros selected Mike Foltynewicz of Minooka High School at 19th overall in 2010. Foltynewicz lived in Harvard for a time growing up before moving to Minooka. Quinn Priester is the highest drafted high school player from McHenry County since Crystal Lake South’s Scott Olsen was selected in the sixth round by the Florida Marlins in 2002.
Quinn Priester committed to play college baseball at TCU more than two years ago. If he were to turn down the chance to go pro and head to TCU instead, he would be committing to the Horned Frogs for the next three years under MLB draft rules.
The Priesters declined to comment on whether Quinn would sign a contract and officially go pro.
Since 2012, the MLB has assigned teams individual spending values for the first 10 rounds of the draft and included a recommended value for each individual pick. This year’s 18th overall pick is valued at $3,481,300, although that doesn't mean Priester and the Pirates necessarily would have to agree to that value.
Priester was a two-sport athlete at Cary-Grove, helping the Trojans' football team win the IHSA Class 6A state championship last fall. Priester was a deep-threat target at wide receiver who utilized his height and athleticism to go up and over defensive backs. Priester caught one of his 10 touchdowns in the state championship win over Crete-Monee.
During his senior baseball season this spring, Priester went 8-2 with a 1.00 ERA. He struck out 91 hitters in 60 1/3 innings and walked 14.
Priester is especially thankful for the support from the Trojans community through the years.
“It’s meant everything,” he said. “It’s pushed me to keep going, to get better every single year. The community wants to see me succeed for not only myself, but for the community."
First-round draft picks from Illinois (last 10 years)
2016: Cody Sedlock, Sherrard (Illinois), RHP, 27th overall, Baltimore Orioles
2015: Tyler Jay, Lemont (Illinois), LHP, 6th overall, Minnesota Twins
2010: Mike Foltynewicz, Minooka (Minooka High School), RHP, 19th overall, Houston Astros
2009: Tyler Kehrer, New Baden (Eastern Illinois), LHP, 48th overall (supplemental first-round pick), Los Angeles Angels