Two weeks ago, Quinn Priester he pitched a flawless (immaculate) inning on a 10-strikeout effort. Today Friday, he found a way to overcome it himself. The No. 53 prospect overall struck out the first nine batters he faced, 13 overall and carried a perfect game into the sixth inning, in High-A’s 8-0 one-hit victory. Greensboro in Asheville.
The start was reminiscent of Pablo Lopez’s start on July 11 for the Miami Marlins, when he set a major league record by striking out the first nine Atlanta Braves he saw. Although minor league records are inaccurate, Priester was at least certain of the starting place for nine strikeouts in his own personal history:
Right-hander K’s 20-year streak came to an end when Tourists lead hitter JC Correa hit a loose hit to shortstop Liover Peguero for an easy out, but kept him from breaking the record for Major League Baseball set by Lopez, Priester admitted that Correa’s roll played into his plan for much of the night and the season as a whole.
Whether they were happy accidents or not, Priester kept the Ks with four more in his last three innings. His 13 chocolates surpassed his previous career record of 10, set at that previous gem in Winston-Salem on Aug. 13, and he had such a streak that he was allowed to set another best mark with 96 pitches (63 strikes). Of those 96, another career-high 21 were missed swings.
The 6-foot-3-inch (1.90-meter) pitcher typically throws in the mid-to-high 90s with his fastball and has garnered strong reviews for both his high-spin curveball and slider. It was the first who had the best feeling on Friday night, but the broken ball can be used prominently to keep hitters angry.
In fact, going to both was a key difference between Friday’s gem and Priester’s outing a week ago, in which he allowed four earned runs and seven hits in five innings against Bowling Green:
Priester’s bet on a perfect game lasted a hitter in the sixth inning when Yanier Diaz singled the other way to right field with a 0-2 count. It took the Grasshoppers starter 13 pitches to retire Asheville’s next two hitters, leading to a visit to the mound by manager Kieran Mattison while sitting on 93 pitches, tying his record from the previous season.
Three pitches later, Priester had Correa line up left for the final out of the sixth and his entire outing. The No. 2 Pirates prospect now leads all of the High-A classifieds with a 2.86 ERA and has paired him with 87 strikeouts in 85 innings in technically his first full season since being selected at the job. 18th overall in 2019.
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It’s an impressive sprint to the end of 2021 for the great right-hander, but even after another night of firsts, he still keeps his eyes firmly aiming higher. Colin Selby struck out six in three blank relief innings to preserve the one-hit game and give Greensboro pitchers 19 K’s on the night.