This week, I did a phone interview with Samford’s star outfielder and possible early round 2016 MLB Draft pick Heath Quinn. If you have read my articles this year, then you know I am the high man on Quinn and see him as one of the top 30 players in this class, thanks to his combination of power and surprising athleticism for his size.
Jeff Ellis: Heath, you are playing in the Southern Conference this year. For those who have not had a chance to see you play, can you describe yourself as player? What do you consider your strengths?
Heath Quinn: Well, I just try to be an overall good baseball player. I don't really try to hone in on one thing. I just try and focus on all the little things to get better. Whether that is base running, throwing, I try to just work on all the things we practice and just try and make myself a better overall baseball player.
JE: Are there any players now that you emulate or try and take something from their game?
HQ: I grew up a Boston Red Sox fan. I like David Ortiz, but I would not say I compare to him at all. I don't really have one player that I like to try and emulate, but I'm fans of certain players.
JE: Well, who are some of those players?
HQ: I like some of the younger guys like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper. The numbers they put up and what they do on the field. I am a fan of old Red Sox players. David Ortiz, I like Jonathan Papelbon, but he's not on the Red Sox anymore.
JE: If I did my research right, in high school you played with David Dahl of the Colorado Rockies’ organization. Do you still keep in contact with him at all?
HQ: I really don't get to talk to him too much anymore. He was actually staying here at Samford in the fall for a little bit. I got to see him then. But I don't really get a chance to talk to him that much, no.
JE: This summer, you got to play in the Cape Cod League and did very well. You're obviously putting up great numbers in your conference. Who are the most challenging pitchers you have had to face so far in your college career?
HQ: There are a lot of good pitchers I have faced. There are a lot of guys who just have different arm angle guys. You have the stock righties arm guys, who you see every day, but the guys who maybe drop it down from the right side or even a lefty power arm guy who comes in its weird, different. The ball comes in and you have different eyesight. I can't think of one particular guy, there are a lot of good pitchers, but just any guy who has a funky delivery or it's hard to pick up out of the hand is kind of tough.
JE: Back in 2013, you went through the draft process before and were a 12th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians. Now, if you could just talk about the draft experience then or about meeting the people with the Indians. How the process went for you?
HQ: That was a cool experience. Just going through that whole process was not something I was familiar with. I got to see it firsthand my junior year, when David was going through it. A lot of scouts came to the games. I think that helped my name get out there. I was not really recruited that highly out of high school, but all the scouts coming to see him play helped me out a ton. But that whole process my senior year, talking to teams and just getting drafted in the summer was something special, something I truly enjoyed. I think I learned from and it has helped out the process this time.
JE: When I was looking back into your high school days and I think one thing is when people see you, they see a big guy and they don't realize your athleticism. I saw you played basketball and football. Out of curiosity, what positions did you play?
HQ: In football, I played quarterback, a little wide receiver, depending on the year and then I played a little bit of safety, actually. I played a couple games at safety. In basketball, I was a big man. I was a big three post player. So that was fun, playing at a big school being 6'3".
JE: Right now you are tied for the NCAA home run lead, with your conference member, Kyle Lewis. I assume you have to know him pretty well at this point, since you guys have been in the league for three years and are two of the names that come up most often when you talk of your conference.
HQ: Yeah, Kyle is a great player. I got to play him the last two years, really, last season, this summer, and now this year. He is a great player and I got to play against him a lot.
JE: This is your junior year at Samford. I was curious, do you have a top baseball memory so far from your college experience?
HQ: We have been to the conference championship the past two years that I've played here. Unfortunately, we lost both times, but that whole journey throughout the tournament was something that was fun. I never got to do much in high school, because we only made the playoffs one time. Going through the whole process of the conference tournament the past two years has been probably my best memory.
JE: When you're playing this year and you find out scouts are in attendance, does that give you more incentive to perform well? Does it just stick in your mind, knowing this is your junior year?
HQ: I have had scouts at my games for a while now. You just have to play and be yourself and not pay attention to that. You just try and do what you do and control what you can control. Just working hard and prepping for the games. Just playing hard doing what you’re trying to do on the field. You don't want to let that get in the way.