Quinn Priester’s first full season as a professional baseball player has been anything but what he envisioned thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Were it not for the coronavirus shutting down minor league baseball, the 2019 Cary-Grove graduate might have been pitching for the Pirates’ Class A Greensboro (North Carolina) Grasshoppers or the Class A-Advanced Bradenton (Florida) Maurauders.
Instead, Priester was home in Cary, working out and throwing with former Trojans catchers Wyatt Mascarella and Drew Stengren. Even with nothing on the line, Priester wanted to be prepared.
Priester’s diligence was rewarded earlier this week when he was added to the Pirates’ player pool on Tuesday.
Due to the pandemic, MLB teams can have 28 players on their active roster, with up to 32 additional players on their 60-man roster.
The Pirates' players not on the active roster work out at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pennsylvania, home of the Altoona Curve, Pittsburgh’s Double-A affiliate.
“I was stoked. I was really excited,” Priester said. “I get the opportunity to compete against the best players in our organization and I get to see some of the guys I started to form relationships with in spring training. It’s been fun.
“I was throwing at the high school and working out in Arlington Heights. Just staying home and staying ready for this opportunity. I didn’t know if I was going to get the chance to come out here. But I treated it as if I could at any moment. I’m happy that’s the way I treated it because I’m more ready to come out here and there’s really no lag time for me to get ready and get back into it. I’m able to come in and hit the ground running, essentially.”
Priester was the 2019 Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year and Baseball Player of the Year. Pittsburgh selected him with the No. 18 overall selection in the MLB First-Year Player Draft. The 6-foot-3 right-hander was with the Bristol Pirates in Rookie League last season and finished with the West Virginia Black Bears in the Class A Short Season League.
Priester recently began working with Scott Swanson, a pitching coach with FullReps, a facility in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. They talk about kinetics, body mechanics, pitch sequencing and pitch design (the shape they want for each pitch).
“I trust him to have my best interest,” Priester said. “He listens to me as well as I listen to him. It’s a really cool relationship we have going and I plan on having it for a long time.”
Priester, who will be 20 on Sept. 15, is one of 11 pitchers at the Pirates' alternate training site, but will not be called up.
“They said, ‘Hey, we want you to come in and compete. Make sure you’re getting work in and developing. You don’t need to try to do too much, you’re not going to get called up,’ ” Priester said. “That’s the reality of it, being very young. I’m going to keep acting like I can, but it’s not a possibility quite yet being this early in my career. I’m going to keep working and treat it like it is still an opportunity. It’s a motivating factor keeping that goal in my mind.”