The Future - Miers Quigley
This article appears in the May/June 2005 edition of SchoolSports magazine.
Miers Quigley is brutally honest with himself when he looks in the mirror. Like when he looks back on his pre-teen years.
"I used to get picked on," he says.
Come on, Miers. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound kid? Late growth spurt, huh?
"Nah, I was always a big kid," says Quigley, a senior left-handed pitcher at Roswell who is rated the nation's No. 30 high school baseball prospect in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. "I had a late growth spurt mentally. Yeah, my mouth was always getting me into trouble."
Now there's the fresh breath of honesty. And Quigley is just as candid about his career path in baseball. As in, up until a few months ago, he didn't really have a career path in baseball.
"All this attention has been a lot to take in," says Quigley, who went 12-2 with a 1.38 ERA, 84 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 78 innings as a junior after missing his sophomore season with mononucleosis. "Especially since I never thought of baseball being a profession until about six months ago."
Quigley, who turned 18 on Jan. 27, is thinking a lot more along those lines these days. He has committed to play college baseball on a full scholarship at the University of Alabama, but that's pending the outcome of June's Major League Baseball Draft. As a big, talented lefty, Quigley may be drafted high enough that he'll get a contract offer he can't refuse.
These are the kind of rapid life changes that occur when your fastball hits 93 mph, but you also throw a 78 mph changeup that looks exactly the same leaving your hand. Quigley's mouth isn't dictating his future prospects anymore. That job belongs to his left arm.
It's easy to forget what a big deal that is. A guy goes from playing baseball to, well, working baseball — and does it almost overnight. Talk about hopping into a pressure cooker.
"You know, if it were anything else but baseball, I couldn't do it," says Quigley, who serves as a DH in games he's not pitching. "When you start to play this game at the age of 4, you understand it well enough to handle the stakes. When I pick up new things, like playing poker for example, it's very difficult to deal with failure. I lose my temper. But when you've played baseball for 14 years, you realize you're not going to win every time. You realize there's a certain level of failure involved."
Not that Quigley has experienced much of it at the high school level.
After piling up a 9-1 JV record as a freshman, he went 3-1 as a varsity call-up that year. Then, after missing his sophomore season, he lost just twice in 14 decisions last year while leading Roswell to a 25-7 record and the Class AAAAA state postseason round of eight. And as of press time this spring, the Hornets were ranked No. 23 in the SchoolSports.com National Baseball Top 25.
Point is, there's a distinct lack of failure when it comes to Quigley's scholastic baseball career.
"He's a great competitor," says Roswell second-year head coach Mike Power, 43, who guided Harrison High to the 1998 Class AAAA state title before winning back-to-back Class 6A state titles at Alabama's Daphne High in 2001 and '02. "The tougher the situation, the more readily he takes it to another level. All the physical tools are there with Miers. And mentally, he's just at a whole different level."
Power's praise isn't just idle chit-chat. The former Kenmore East High (N.Y.) and University of Buffalo right-hander played professionally in Canada's Intercounty Baseball League before launching his high school coaching career. At Harrison, Power presided over the scholastic careers of current Chicago Cubs center fielder Corey Patterson and current Houston Astros shortstop Adam Everett, among other top prospects.
Quigley, meanwhile, heaps huge props upon Power and the rest of the coaches whose advice he's benefited from.
"They've made a world of difference," says Quigley, a 2004 AFLAC All-American and 2005 Baseball America preseason second team All-American. "I have buddies at other schools who are projected draft picks, and their coaches don't know anything about the procedures of handling scouts and agents."
But Quigley doesn't need Power to figure out why he's been so effective against hitters in one of the most talent-rich regions of one of the nation's most baseball-rich states.
"Being able to throw three pitches consistently is huge," says Quigley, who also throws a slider, though he says he needs to improve his feel for that pitch. "I was very fortunate to have a minor league baseball coach named Terry Bella teach me how to throw the changeup at age 14 when I was with the East Cobb Astros in Pony League. I've been throwing that pitch for four years now. When I can come with a pitch that has the same arm speed and arm slot, well, that makes things difficult when it's coming 25 miles per hour slower than the fastball."
Quigley's unique physical skills combined with his major league mindset have put him in a rare position. The prospect of pitching to pros has gone from dream to reality in less than a year.
"I do actually think about matchups when I think about pitching at the game's highest levels," says Quigley. "I think about facing guys like Albert Pujols because if I make it, that's exactly the type of guy I'll be expected to come in and get. I think about how I might work to him. I won't kid you, thinking about facing Albert Pujols is scary. The guy's like three times the size of me.
"I'm not exactly looking forward to the first batter I face at the next level — whatever level that may be — hitting a 500-foot bomb off me," he adds. "But when and if that time comes, I'll have to deal with it. I'll just try to do my best and stay focused and keep my head on straight."
Quigley is reassured by the fact that whenever he faces adversity in his new surroundings next year, his best ally will be a lifetime of playing baseball in a place where baseball is life.
"A kid from Montana is just not going to face the same kind of people I've faced growing up here," says Quigley. "The talent that's here and the talent that comes from out of state to play the talent we have here is unbelievable. That exposure is so key — learning to play at and against that level and to cope with failure, because they will make you fail."
Some more than others. Quigley less than most.