Oakland A's Instructs Q&A: Ryan Quigley, LHP

With their 22nd round pick in the 2009 draft, the Oakland A's selected a strong-armed lefty from Northeastern University, Ryan Quigley. Quigley recently completed his first professional season, which he spent in the Arizona Rookie League, and he is now participating in the A's Instructional League. We caught-up with Quigley last week from Instructs for a Q&A…

Ryan Quigley came to the Oakland A's in the 2009 draft with the reputation for having a live arm, but for also having control issues. Over his final two seasons at Northeastern University, Quigley struck-out 142 batters in 118 innings, but he also walked 70. During his first professional season, Quigley had similar results with the A's Rookie League team. He used his hard slider to strike-out 31 batters in 25.1 innings, but he also walked 16.

The A's see a lot of potential in Quigley's left arm and he is getting a lot of close attention from A's pitching coaches this fall at the team's Instructional League. We caught-up with Quigley from Instructs to see how they were going….

OaklandClubhouse: How have Instructs been going? What is a typical day for you at camp?

Ryan Quigley: It's been great so far. We get there pretty early, probably about 7:30 or so, and you have some time to eat breakfast and if you need to get a lift in, you have time to do that. Usually, the hitters will have their meeting and pitchers, we'll have ours, with our coordinators, just to go over some of the day's events and some of the stuff we need to work on as a group or a staff.

After that, basically we have our stretch and then split up into pitchers and hitters. Pitchers will do throwing and hitters will do their drills. Then we might have a quick team defense drill together just to work on some defensive stuff as a group. Then, it is usually BP and during that time, some hitters will be in the cage and some pitchers will be throwing bullpens. After that we have our lunch and then it is game time.

OC: How have the games gone? Are they similar to the Rookie League games you played this year, or are they more loose in terms of the rules and that sort of stuff?

RQ: They are pretty loose. Each pitcher is scheduled for a certain number of pitches per inning and each hitter is scheduled for certain at-bats. Usually they'll split time with guys at their position or guys will move around. There usually aren't guys playing the whole nine innings or pitching more than two innings or so.

In terms of the game standpoint, it's all pretty live. It isn't like a simulated game or anything like that. We have a three-man crew of umpires and everything so it still has that game feel to it, but at the same time, they really stress that we shouldn't worry too much about results and that we should more go for what we need to work on and focus on those types of things. Obviously, everyone wants to win, but it is more for development and working on the things you need to.

OC: What are you working on in particular? Were there things that you brought with you from the Rookie League season that you wanted to work on in camp?

RQ: Yeah. There are things that I have been working on since I got down here for Rookie ball. So I am continuing to work on those things. Coming out of college, I had some mechanical issues and some problems with control. I have worked with Gil Patterson [A's minor league pitching coordinator] and some of the other pitching coaches, like the pitching coach down in Arizona, Ariel Prieto, and Garvin Alston [A's minor league rehab coordinator]. I was working with those guys during the season and was really trying to get more consistent with everything.

I am still working on it because during the season I didn't really want to do too much, but now in Instructs you basically have all of the time to do all of those things and it is more one-on-one instruction. I was really pleased to get invited to Instructs and to have the opportunity to work with all of the coaches. To have all of those resources available has really been helpful. Even in the last week, there have just been a lot of things I have been able to work on that during the season I might not have been able to work on.

OC: What was your first impression of professional baseball? Was it what you expected or different?

RQ: Rookie ball is obviously a little bit different than some of the full-season teams with all of the travel that they have. One of the things I had to get acclimated to, especially for me being from the Northeast, was the weather. Other than that, it was a little bit of what I expected. I just wanted to get my career started. As much as it would have been a good decision to go back to school and finish my degree this next year, playing professional baseball is just something that I have always wanted to do. It's something that I look forward to everyday, getting up and going to the ballpark. Whether it is drill work or lifting or running or anything like that, it's all good stuff.

It's basically along the lines of what I would have expected. You have more time than you do in college to work on baseball. You don't have to worry about classes or anything. It's been a great experience so far and it is something that I want to keep working on everyday.

OC: You've had experience as both a starter and a reliever in your career. Is there a role that you prefer?

RQ: Honestly, I was a starter pretty much my whole life until I got to college and I was a closer for my freshman year. I've had some experience with both in summer leagues and in college and everything. In Arizona, they used me all of the time as a reliever. I have a comfort level with both. Whatever they need me for, whether it is a starter, closer, long relief, short relief, whatever it is, I have had experience at all of it. Whatever they want me to work on is fine with me. As long as I get innings, it is really no problem.

OC: You've been a strike-out pitcher throughout your college career and you struck out a lot of guys in Arizona this year. Is that something that you are trying to do consciously or does it come naturally?

RQ: I'm aware of it too. I've always had a lot of strike-outs, but at the same time, I've always had a lot of walks, so it is sort of a double-edged sword. I'd not so much like to trade in a lot of the strike-outs because that is the way that I have always been, but from a control aspect, I think if I could basically cut down on the walks, it would help me quite a lot. It would be a lot more beneficial to me with pitch counts and having less unneeded runners on base.

It's something that I have been working on and it is something that I hope to continue to work on. Especially with my fastball command. That is something that I have been working on down here. My slider has always been my out pitch and my strike-out pitch, but just to be able to set that up with a fastball, would make it more effective. I have also been working on a change-up, so I can throw that in there as well.

If at the start of an at-bat, I can get a strike-out, that's fine, but they really preach to us to try to get a guy out in three pitches and pitch to contact. That is something at the college level that I didn't really have much experience with. Especially with the metal bats, you don't really want to pitch to contact. Here it is a little bit easier to try to pitch to contact and it is something I am going to continue to work on, but I already have had a lot more of a comfort level with the more we work on that.

OC: What was it like for you to participate in the Northeastern-Boston Red Sox spring training games?

RQ: Every year we play the Sox in an exhibition. It's usually our first game of the year. It's been a great experience. I got to pitch in it the last two years. I am from around Boston, so I was a Red Sox fan growing up and it was just really a fun experience. My family would be down there and just to face guys that I have watched on TV was pretty cool. Especially this year, because of all of the speculation I had heard about possibly getting drafted this year, it kind of really sunk in that this is what these guys do for a living. They get up everyday and play ball. I really started thinking to myself that playing professional baseball was something that I could do. In terms of the experience, it is great. We get to meet a lot of the guys and you get to pitch to professional hitters, so just in general, it was something that I looked forward to every year.

OC: What was your draft day experience like? Were you following in online or did someone call you to let you know that you had been picked?

RQ: I had been following it a little bit. I had an idea of where scouts had told me I was likely to go, but I didn't want to try to sit around by the computer in case that didn't happen. I was getting a few calls from scouts asking me if I would take this amount of money in that round, or whatever, but it really came down to when Oakland called, they said that paying for the rest of my school was a big part of [the contract offer]. Northeastern is an expensive school, so once that was really taken care of then it made the decision a little bit easier. The experience itself was pretty nerve-racking. I was getting texts from my parents and friends asking what was going on. It was just a great relief when I was picked. It was a good experience in the end.

OC: You participated in the Cape Cod League and are from near that area. What was it like to participate in a league that you maybe grew up following a little bit?

RQ: Until professional baseball, that by far is the best experience I have had pitching or playing in any league. I had vacationed local to the Cape growing up and I went to a few Cape Cod League games growing up. It was a great experience because my family was able to go down there a lot and I was kind of the local guy on the team and there were always fans – whether it was my team or the away team – people would come up to me. They really thought it was cool that there was someone from the area participating in the league. They were all supportive. That was just a great experience. I had an unbelievable host family. The coaching staff was great and the guys on the team were great. To top it all off, we ended up winning the championship, so that was an unbelievable summer and is something that I'll never forget.

OC: Do you have plans for what your off-season is going to be like yet? Have they started talking about throwing programs, or is that something that will come at the end of camp?

RQ: I'm sure that they will touch base on that later. I think right now they are just trying to get us to focus on the rest of camp. I know that we don't get too much time off from throwing and lifting. It is something that I'll have to adapt to. Even though in college you have the whole off-season, you still have classes and workouts and stuff. This is more independent and on your own and it is at home. It is something I am looking forward to, having some time off to spend with my family and friends, but at the same time, just taking a short time off and getting ready for next year.

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