SAN DIEGO -- When the San Diego Padres drafted Stanford RHP Cal Quantrill with the eighth overall pick in June, they knew they were getting a supremely talented pitcher. While some thought Quantrill’s selection may have been a reach, but he ultimately signed an above-slot deal and joined the organization.
As many fans know, Quantrill missed the entire 2016 college season recovering from Tommy John surgery. While he didn’t throw a pitch in a competitive game, he did throw for teams prior to the draft. With his recovery of the elbow tear in the rear-view mirror, Quantrill and his vast potential was on full display at the first ever Padres Future’s Game at Petco Park in early October.
Quantrill routinely touched 96 mph with his fastball and his slider and changeup generated several sing-throughs in his two innings of work. The Canadian-born righty has the talent, the pedigree (his father Paul pitched parts of 14 years in the big leagues, including a stint with the Padres in 2005) and the confidence to become a top-of-the-rotation arm. Quantrill chatted with us prior to his appearance in the Padres Future’s Game.
MadFriars: What was your biggest takeaway from going through your first instructional league?
Cal Quantrill: I think I have said it before and I will say it again: The ratio is unbelievable -- there are 70 players and 40 coaches. So the players are always trying to take things from those coaches. You’ll never get as much individual attention as you do now and you’ll never be as surrounded with as many good coaches as you are now. I think we are all just trying to absorb as much as we can and obviously it gets to culminate with a pretty cool experience at Petco.
With the Tommy John surgery and recovery behind you, have you had to hold anything back when you throw or do you feel 100% healthy?
Quantrill: I think my approach was 100 percent and my body felt 100 percent but I have definitely gotten better as the months have gone on. It’s one of those things where you can feel like everything is back and everything is perfect but it takes the body awhile to get back to where it was before. It’s too bad we are going into the off-season because I really feel like everything is back to normal. That was the goal from the get-go and it turned out pretty well.
Are you treating your off-season workouts any differently to make up for the lost time?
Quantrill: So, I am going to take a break for a little while. One of the things that people kind of forget: it’s not like I have just been sitting around. For the last 18 months, I have been rehabbing -- I didn’t really get an off-season for the last year or so. I think I am just going to treat it like a normal off-season and give my arm a little break; it’s my first true off-season, so I am going to use it to rededicate myself to getting bigger, stronger and faster and hopefully I’ll come into spring training feeling better and feeling cleaner, so that’s the goal.
When you made your pro debut this season, did the organization have you working on anything specific? Or was the goal to get more game action and put yourself in a more normal regimen?
Quantrill: Yeah, I think you are right. There’s a big difference between throwing a bullpen and getting used to pitching in a game again. For the first little while, that’s what it was. It was just like -- ok let’s learn how to compete again, let’s learn how to get outs. I may be able to throw 100 mph in the ‘pen but that’s not the same as getting out there and winning a baseball game.
I think for the first little while that was the goal. Towards the end, we started working on some of the finer things -- some of the finer points of my delivery, the spin on the breaking ball, my change-up depth and I’ll continue to work on that. You never stop working on that stuff. When I got to Fort Wayne, at the end of the season, I got to work and refine each of those things that I worked on at each level.
Have you given any thought to next year and what spot you want to end up at? Or do you let those things take care of themselves?
Quantrill: I mean, I have said it before and I’ll say it again and obviously it’s aggressive: I want to be in the big leagues next year. I don’t think you’ll find someone who wants to push faster than I do. At the same time, I know I have to do the system and prove that I deserve to be there.
I am just going to go out there and do my best. In the end, it’s out of my control. The organization makes the decisions and I just go out there and pitch. Hopefully, I pitch well enough that it is an easy decision.
You commented earlier on the ratio of coaches to players in the instructional league. Has there been one guy that really had an impact on you?
Quantrill: I have definitely taken something from everyone. I have spent a little more time with Mark Prior working on cleaning up my delivery and making it a little more repeatable. He likes where I was at but he thought there was still room to improve and I think we did that.
I also had a unique experience: I got to throw a few bullpens with Hideo Nomo. We got to talk about some of the finer things that made him the unbelievable special pitcher he was. We talked about the change-up a little bit.
So in the end, I really have taken a little bit from everyone here.