Exclusive: Kyle Hendricks a Pitching Role Model for Quinn Priester


Last week, on the eve of the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft week, we once again visited with Quinn Priester, the first high school pitcher to be selected in the 2019 MLB Draft. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected the Glendale Heights, Illinois native with the 18th overall pick last summer.

In part one of the Quinn Priester exclusive, we focused on how his first season of professional baseball went. Today we cover some of the fundamentals that he’s been working on and what he takes, fundamentally, from one of his baseball role models, Chicago Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks.

Priester is now back home, as he awaits the start of the 2020 baseball season. He currently throws six days a week, taking only Sundays off. He also does four days a week of strength/weight training, and two more days for conditioning and core workouts.

Scouts are very high on Priester’s athleticism, almost as much as they admire his four-seamer, which tops out in the mid-high 90s. That’s complemented by his curveball, which some regarded the best of any prospect in last year’s draft class.

Now he’s working on trying to get his change-up on par with the other two pitches.

“My change-up has gotten a lot better and I have more confidence in that pitch, and it still has a long way to go, but I’m working on that every single day, out here,” he said via telephone from Glendale Heights, IL.

“I’m happy with the progress I’ve made, but I know it’s going to take years of practice to be able to compete with every start, as I keep moving forward with my career.”

In addition to Hendricks, Priester also looks up to/tries to learn something from the Washington Nationals’ Max Scherzer, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Walker Buehler and the New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole.

Being just 19, with less than a year, maybe slightly more than a half year, of experience in pro ball, the Cary-Grove graduate is looking to “be a sponge.” He hopes to watch and learn from the aforementioned pitchers, as much as possible because “they’re in the show and dominating in the show.”

Hendricks, who claimed the ERA title (2.13) and finished third in Cy Young award voting during the Cubs World Series season of 2016 is a great standard to aspire to.

“With what he has. he does it better than anyone else does it,” Priester said of The Professor.

“I could be wrong, and maybe I’m just missing someone but you don’t see guys throwing 86-87 mph fastballs and being as productive as he is.”

Priester said he’s looking to just be efficient in his baseball career, to get through innings, and get guys out, which is exactly what Hendricks does. He also admires the Cubs starting pitcher’s ultra-professional demeanor.

“He would throw a perfect game and you wouldn’t see him smile one, that dude is all business.”

quinn priester

“He doesn’t throw 100 mph like a lot of the starters now, but the dude gets outs, so it’s really fun to watch him be surgical with how he pitches and kind of carve lineups up, top to bottom while being extremely efficient.”

In the end if course, the goal is not to be the next Kyle Hendricks or Walker Buehler or anybody else. It’s to be the best Quinn Priester possible. Priester was a big Cubs fan (until getting drafted by a division rival of course) and he got to pitch in Wrigley Field for a 2018 Prep All-Star game.

“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.”

“Kyle’s change-up is arguably one of the best from any starter in the league. Seeing how he does it and how he holds it, and what his mentality is when he throws it- that’s all extremely valuable stuff to learn, and if I ever had the chance to I’d ask (them in person).”

For the link to part one, go here. Part three, focusing on some of his MLB role models, will run at Sports Illustrated later this week. For last year’s exclusive, go here.

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.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.com, on Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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