With all up-and-coming super-prospects, player comparisons abound. Quinn Priester, the first prep pitcher selected (18th overall, Pittsburgh Pirates) in the 2019 MLB Draft, certainly embodies "up-and-coming."
Priester began his professional career after the draft with the Gulf Coast League Pirates. After going 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA, 1.194 WHIP, 37 K and 10 BB in 32.2 IP, he was promoted to short season A ball. He made one start for the West Virginia Black Bears, where he allowed three runs in four innings; walking four and striking out four.
Priester says he hasn't had any memorable specific comps, but he takes a little bit from a few different pitchers. Growing up a Chicago Cubs fan in suburban Glendale Heights, he strives to emulate the efficiency of Kyle Hendricks. When it comes to his mental and psychological approach to the game, Dodgers hurler Walker Buehler is the model.
"As much as I enjoy watching Walker throw the ball I wouldn't say I model my mechanics after him, but man he's electric on the mound," Priester said in an exclusive interview this week.
"In terms of my mentality and competitiveness, that guy is incredible to watch."
Priester had more to say about Buehler, who finished third in National League Rookie of the Year voting his first big league season and made the All-Star team in his second.
The 2019 Illinois Prep Player of the Year noted Buehler's "nasty offspeed stuff" before adding: "how focused and composed he is -- that's something that I try and be. When good things happen and you earn outs in big spots, showing that emotion; I think that's awesome to see."
We then asked him his thoughts on Clayton Kershaw, whose career hits allowed per nine innings pitched of 6.78 is second-lowest in MLB history, behind only Nolan Ryan (6.55 H/9).
"He's the man, his curveball is one of the best ever," said Priester, who turned down a scholarship to TCU.
"He just puts it wherever he wants and that's really fun to watch"
Some scouts believe Priester's curveball is the best in this draft class; complementing his four seam fastball that tops out in the upper 90s. If he continues progressing with his offspeed pitch, perhaps someday he'll be in the same stratosphere with the names we've mentioned.
"That's always the goal," he said, "to be like those guys, cuz they’re in the show and dominating in the show.”
“I’m not going to try to be Walker or Kyle, I’m going to be Quinn Priester, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get better from watching both of them and seeing what they do the best.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TV, Sports Illustrated, Chicago Now and SB Nation.