Cal Quantrill has the proper work ethic, and you can be sure that he will work his tail off to keep his arm fresh. From an early age he saw how major league players went about their business. He was in those locker rooms and witnessed how the players interacted with each other and prepared for the daily grind of 162 games. I was curious what his earliest memories were of a major league locker room, and in particular, about his time here in San Diego.
“It was a ton of fun. I was almost too young to really appreciate how awesome it was. It was a different upbringing. I feel like when I walk into a locker room now, I have a sense of what I want it to look like. Because I saw how it was with the Yankees or the Dodgers or whoever he was playing with at the time. He played on a lot of great teams, so I saw what a winning locker room looks like. I saw how the best players in the world went about their game. Yes, I was young, but I was still there. The best players enjoy showing up to the ballpark everyday. They are excited to be there. I know I am excited to be there. It was a short time in San Diego and I do remember I learned how to juggle while I was there. That was a big thing for me at the time. I don’t remember a ton about Petco back then, but my dad told me, if you go to San Diego in the draft, you are going to love it there.”
Paul Quantrill was a very successful major league reliever. He spent 14 total years in the league and amassed a respectable 3.83 ERA in over 1,250 innings. The man saved 21 total games in his career and won 11 games in a season twice (1995 and 2001). He was named an all-star in 2001, when he had a 3.04 ERA and led the league in appearances with 80. In fact for the next four seasons, Paul Quantrill led the American League in appearances with 86, 89, and 86 games from 2002-2004. The elder Quantrill had a great career and I asked Cal about his dad. I wanted to know about him and the relationship they have with each other.
“My dad and I have had a really cool relationship in terms of baseball over the years. At first he didn’t want to coach me, because he was still playing and didn’t want to create any issues. He coached me during my high school years and I kinda went my own way with my Stanford thing and now with the Padres. He works for the Blue Jays, so it’s an interesting dynamic again, but we have always been able to bond over baseball. We could spend hours talking about it. We both love playing and being a part of the sport. There are a million lessons I have learned from him in regards to the game, it’s just great we have had the chance to bond over the game over the last 20 years.”
The Padres have loads of confidence in this young man, and rightfully so. He has the arsenal, the mind-set, and the pedigree to be a very competent major league pitcher. A.J. Preller and the management team took a chance on Cal, despite his arm injury, and he rewarded them by getting right down to business. He reported to Tri-City and Fort Wayne this past season and got his feet wet at the professional level. I asked him about his thoughts on pro hitters and if there was anything he noticed about playing at this higher level.
“It was a different situation for me. It had been almost a year and a half since I had faced live hitting, and the last time I faced hitters was against a college team. There was a big transition for me. The depth of each lineup is different now. There was an adjustment period. But overall it went well. My health was excellent and my command and velocity was coming back. Now going into next season it is about winning. I had my adjustment period and now its all about winning. The Padres had a great understanding that I was coming back and they did not rush me. Now its about going into this year and dominating and seeing how far I can push it.”
“I go out there and compete, that’s what I do. I go out there and try to beat every player I face. I want to win.”
I asked Cal about any kind of innings limit at this point given his age and recent surgery. He indicated to me that the team hasn’t said anything, but that could be made clearer to him around spring training. It’s understandable for the Padres to be cautious with their prized young pitching prospect.
Speaking of being cautious, being that Cal is pitching for a National League team, he will have an opportunity to swing the bat a little. I asked Cal if he was comfortable swinging the bat. “Its been a long time since I swung the bat, but I wasn’t a bad hitter in High School. I’m not scared to get in the box. I’m excited for that if they will let me swing. Its gonna take a little work. I won’t lie to you there. Hopefully it will come back to me a little bit.”
Teammates are an important part of a successful team and Cal had the opportunity to meet quite a few of the team’s young players towards the end of the year. He also bonded with some during the Future’s Games that was played at Petco Park in early October. I always enjoy seeing which players hang around with each other on their off days, so I asked Cal if there were any teammates in particular that he formed a special bond with. He indicated that the whole draft class this past year are very close and pointed to Eric Lauer and Hudson Sanchez as two guys he has formed a friendship with. Josh Naylor was someone he knew pretty much knew his whole life and they too have a great bond. This Padres’ minor league system is going to be really special. Both Cal and I agree on that. They have great chemistry, and with all this talent, they will only push each other to be better.
Mark Prior has taken Cal under his wing as well. The two have worked out in San Diego and keep in contact regularly. Cal spoke to me about him, and how much the former major league pitcher has helped him since they first met. “Mark Prior has been hugely influential so far. He really has been huge. We have been going over some things that we can do to be prepared for this Spring. The guy was one of the most talented pitchers of all-time, and he is very good at explaining how he went about getting ready for each year. He has been there and done that. He had success and has had horrible injuries. He knows what its like and its great to get tips from someone who knows what they are talking about.”
In researching Cal’s numbers, I noticed that he got left-handed batters out extremely well last year, while the majority of his failures were against right-handers. The sample size was extremely low though, as he threw 16.1 inning against lefties, allowing nine hits and three runs, while right-handers got 18 hits and 13 earned runs in 15. 1 innings pitched off of him. The numbers, though minuscule in terms of innings pitched, are heavily favored, so I asked Cal if the Padres had him stay away from his slider since coming off Tommy John surgery. He told me the Padres had him working on the breaking ball a lot and also had him change his approach against hitters. He was effective with his change against lefties and is working on getting the slider to where it needs to be.
We spoke about goals that players have and how to attain them. He is very goal-oriented and has a ton of determination. I asked Cal what his goals were for the 2017 season and where he wanted to be playing come September 2017. “First off, if anyone tells you they don’t want to be in the big leagues, then we should trade them immediately. My goals haven’t changed. I have said this a million times. I want to be a big league pitcher. If they would let me, I would try to compete for a job right now in the Spring. In terms of the goals that I can control, and that’s what matters, I want to have a healthy season, I want to throw over 100 innings, I want to never miss a start, and I want to win. I go out there and compete, that’s what I do. I go out there and try to beat every player I face. I want to win. Hopefully I get to a situation where they can’t keep me in the minor leagues any more.” With a thought process like that, the San Diego Padres can only keep him in the minors for so long. He will be up soon. You have been warned. He is coming.