Top-10 Stories of 2019: No. 1 Priester lands the No. 18 pick with the Pirates

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

When Quinn Priester’s (Cary-Grove, 2019) name was called No. 18 overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates, he became the first high schooler from our state to earn a first-round selection since Mike Foltynewicz was taken by the Astros 19th overall back in 2010 out of Minooka. He was the first Illinois product taken in the first round since Cody Sedlock (Alleman, 2013; Illinois, 2016) in the 2016 draft.

We first saw Priester back at a preseason event in Gurnee in 2016 where he came out of nowhere topping out at 87 mph with that familiar smooth, easy pace and advanced feel for his offspeed.

Quinn Priester (2/21/16)

Priester came into 2019 with some serious buzz to land a first-round pick, though he somewhat avoided the national circuit in 2018 so he had to come out strong in 2019 to restore the belief the pro scouting community had in him.

That he did. He was actually the first prep pitcher taken off the board in June.

Priester was dominant and even polished for Cary in the spring – and polished is not a word typically synonymous with the high school-level pitcher. He showed four usable, effective pitches, including a live mid-90s fastball and a sharp, biting breaking ball. He punched out 91 batters for the Trojans in over 60 innings and walked only 14.

Quinn Priester (4/5/19)

He continued to play football in all four years of high school and reeled in 10 touchdowns for the Trojans, including one in the team’s state title win against Crete-Monee at the end of 2018. From there, he turned his attention back onto baseball where it’ll be focused for the foreseeable future. 

He debuted for the Pirates’ Gulf Coast League squad and, in 32.2 innings, he notched 37 Ks against just 10 walks and maintained an ERA just over 3.00. The Pirates rewarded Priester with a promotion in late August to make his debut in affiliated ball in West Virginia. He K’d four in his 4.1 debut innings at the level in what became his final start of 2019.

We’ll see what’s in store for Priester in 2020, but we’re sure it’ll be more of that same quiet confidence that’s helped him reach the highest levels already. Becoming the No. 18 overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft is our most important story of the year.