MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Q&A with Padres prospect Cal Quantrill

Q&A with Padres prospect Cal Quantrill

As part of MLBPipeline.com's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we'll be sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Padres' camp, it was No. 4 prospect Cal Quantrill.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cal Quantrill was the Padres' top pick, taken No. 8 overall, in the 2016 Draft. The son of former big leaguer Paul Quantrill, Cal had Tommy John surgery as a sophomore at Stanford and didn't pitch again until his pro debut last summer. He's ranked No. 4 on San Diego's Top 30 Prospects list and No. 97 on the Top 100 Prospects list.

Padres' Top 30 Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com: When you made your pro debut, you hadn't thrown a competitive pitch in a long time. Did that compound the strangeness of the summer debut at all?

Quantrill: I've joked around with people about that. I think the last batter I had faced was the 7-hole hitter for Rice. Then, all of a sudden, I was going against the No. 3 hitter for the Mariners' AZL team. Not exactly an easy jump. I feel I was able to get it done. In the end, the same sticks: Good pitches are going to get good hitters out. It felt good. It took a while for things to come back, and not just the pitching part. I remember the first PFP I got, the first ground ball back to me, I almost rolled my ankle getting it over to first. I was like, "I don't know how to do this anymore." It took some time for that feeling to come back. It does feel like it's back, that feeling of being comfortable with everything, so I'm excited to get a full season going.

MLBPipeline.com: When someone decides to go to Stanford, he's probably not hoping for the experience you ended up having. Did it take some time to come to terms with that, that you didn't get to do what you set out to do when you decided to go there?

Quantrill: I went into Stanford planning on winning at least one Golden Spikes Award, going to a national championship. It didn't go exactly the way I wanted it to. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at school. College was the right decision for me, regardless if the Draft was an option out of high school. I needed to grow, mature as a pitcher. And I did that freshman year and through the summer. A lot of people assume that an injury is a year-long break, like I just sat on my butt and did nothing. It's almost the exact opposite. You put more effort in when you're injured, because you're trying to come back as not just what you were, but a better player than you were. You're trying to make strides forward while you can't throw. Yes, it didn't go the way I planned, but I'm going to come away with a degree, and I still think I became a better pitcher and player while I was there.

Padres Spring Training report

MLBPipeline.com: Have you seen those differences at all in how you're throwing now or how you approached your offseason conditioning?

Quantrill: It's pretty easy when you're in high school, or even when you're a freshman to think, "I'm never hurt. I can do whatever I want." Once you've gone through something -- Tommy John, especially -- I think you have a little more awareness of how your arm feels, what you need to do to stay healthy and, maybe more importantly, what it's going to take to throw, hopefully, 200 innings for 20 years in a row. That's a tall task, right? This offseason, I really put a strong emphasis on working on my breaking ball, but also putting myself in a position that I will be able to throw as many innings as they ask me to, every fifth day, for an entire year. I had a lot of help from the staff here and the staff at Stanford, did my research, talked to as many people as I could about coming back from this injury and staying healthy.

MLBPipeline.com: There can be some kid gloves when dealing with guys coming back from TJ surgery for that first full season. Are you ready to go full tilt, or do you think the organization will have to dial you back a bit?

Quantrill: I'm hesitant to use the word lucky any time I talk about the surgery, but I did have it at maybe an opportune time. I'm two years removed by the time the season gets started. I don't think about the injury anymore. The only time I talk about it is when I'm talking to guys like you. I think I'll be in a situation, I'm sure they'll have rules and I'm sure I'll have to follow them, but it's not necessarily going to be "only 30 pitches today." The goal is for me to be a starting pitcher and prove why they drafted me where they did. Yes, we're going to be safe and smart. The idea isn't to blow it out to prove you're a good Minor League pitcher. My goal is to go into this season and treat it like a regular year. I will push as hard as I can until they tell me to stop. My job is to be the best pitcher I can be. Their job is to make those decisions. They might tell me to go easy, but that's not how I work. I want to pitch in the big leagues. I want to pitch in the big leagues right now. I'm going to do everything I can to get there. They'll tell me if I need to reign it in a bit.

MLBPipeline.com: How many questions have you had to answer about your dad? I would imagine everything you went through, preparing for the pro game, especially after the long layoff, having him was a blessing, that you had some idea of what this world was like.

Quantrill: I don't think I've done an interview without that coming up. I definitely don't deny the advantage of having someone who played baseball before you. Having my dad do it definitely helps. But you still have to put in the work. It was extremely helpful in the sense that taking almost two years off of anything is not an easy thing to do. The benefit I had was I never stopped talking baseball, whether it was at home or in my apartment with my friends. Baseball was still my life. We just took a certain part of it away. So having my dad to go over little things -- while he didn't have an injury like this -- you have to imagine he must've had 20 or 30 guys he played with who have, so just bouncing ideas off of him. He's one part of my support system. It's an advantage.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.