The game of baseball is like life. Its circular in every way. It’s strange how it happens, but as you mature in life you realize that fact.
Former relief pitcher Paul Quantrill spent just under two months with the team in 2005, and his 10-year old son spent some time in the Padres’ locker room that summer as his father pitcher for the Friars. Who would have known that this 10-year-old, would one day be the Padres #1 pick in the 2016 MLB Draft? Who would have known that he would one day be a vital member of the franchise’s future?
If you ask Cal, it really came as no surprise to him. Playing baseball was just something he always wanted to do.
The man oozes confidence and just wants to succeed in everything he cares to embark on. In speaking to him he made it quite clear that winning the game is his number one priority, and with that, you could easily make the assessment that he is a team player in every sense of his being. Having a young pitcher with that mentality is excellent for a franchise, but it really comes as no surprise given Cal Quantrill‘s pedigree.
Being the son of a former major leaguer does entitle a young pitcher to much, but his success has little to do with what doors were opened from his father’s career. He has a bulldog-like demeanor on the mound and an incredible work ethic. Oh, and his stuff on the hill is nasty as well. Add all of that together, and you have the makings for a top-of-the-rotation starter.
When I talked to him last week, he was just wrapping up some classes back at Stanford University. He was working out in the area and told me he had just started to throw the ball recently after a brief break. “I am just about to start throwing now. Everything is feeling great. I have just been training really hard and I am excited to get going again.”
He will spend the holiday season in the Toronto area with his parents, as his father works in the Blue Jays organization. Paul Quantrill spent six seasons in Toronto pitching for the Jays and is a Canadian native. I asked Cal about his heritage and if any Canadian ball players in particular were a favorite of his. He thought for second and responded.
“It’s a unique thing (being Canadian) and I am proud of it. I obviously grew up wherever my dad was playing, but I got to grade five or grade six and into my high school years and they were spent in Canada. Its something that I take a lot of pride in. There are a ton of Canadian players I saw and looked up to. Larry Walker was one of those players everyone wanted to be. More recently, the guys like Justin Morneau, Joey Votto and Brett Lawrie. There are actually a lot of players in the majors who are Canadian and people don’t realize that.”
In 2013, Cal was drafted by the New York Yankees, but chose to attend Stanford University instead. College was the wise choice for him and the fact he is continuing his education, even to this day, shows you that this man has a great head on his shoulders. He is very proud of his education at the school and we talked about the prestige of playing for Stanford. “I love it here. Its unique in the fact that the athletics are almost secondary, but they are really, really good. It’s definitely not for everyone. The time I spend studying and going over text books probably wouldn’t appeal to a lot of people, and for me sometimes it got a little annoying too. But now looking back at it, I really have a better sense of how lucky I was to have that opportunity. Stanford does a real good job of preparing athletes for the real world. ”
He had an impressive freshman year in college, where he went 7-5 with a 2.68 ERA in 110 innings pitched and 17 starts. He was the first freshman pitcher to start for Stanford, on Opening Day, since Mike Mussina, and he was gaining the attention of the entire baseball community at an early age. His Sophomore year started out excellent as he went 2-0 in his first three starts with a 1.93 ERA. However, he felt some elbow discomfort during his third start of the year and was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery.
I was sure Cal was tired of hearing about his elbow and answering questions about it, so I took it easy on him in that regard. “Everyone is going to ask about it and I get that. It was a big part of my career so far. For me, it was one of those things where you come off a freshman campaign where I got to do all these special things and win all this awards and you are excited. I was rolling into my Sophomore season, where I had a feeling that I knew what I was doing. I was surrounded by a team that was excited and thought we could win. And then, it all kinda blows up in your face. It took a couple of weeks to set in and I was really disappointed. But I realized really quick that it is a risk you take when you play the sport and it was not a career-ender. In fact, I feel like I have come back stronger since the surgery. I truly feel I am a better pitcher now than I was before.”
I asked Cal if his mindset has changed since the surgery and his response was a bit surprising. ” Um, I have thought about this before. I don’t think my mindset has changed as far as how I go about playing a baseball game. I will still do whatever I can to win a baseball game. That has not changed. But on the other side, arm health and staying healthy in this game is important and I have taken a lot stronger stance on that. I don’t cheat reps on arm care. I have talked to the Padres’ staff about keeping my arm really fresh and working towards this never happening again.”
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