Padres nab Stanford righty Quantrill at No. 8

'Ready to go' after Tommy John surgery, son of reliever has elite potential

Padres nab Stanford righty Quantrill at No. 8

SAN DIEGO -- When Cal Quantrill got the news that he'd require Tommy John surgery in March 2015, the Stanford right-hander said he took less than a half-hour to wonder, "Why me?"

Then, he got straight to work mentally on his rehab process. There was no time for self-pity if Quantrill was going to achieve his dream of becoming a big leaguer -- a dream that inched closer to fruition on Thursday night when the Padres selected him with the No. 8 overall selection in the Draft.

"I realized pretty quick that that wasn't the solution, that wasn't going to make me better, that wasn't going to make me a Padre," said Quantrill, the son of former big league reliever Paul Quantrill. "So I took the time I needed to get back to where I needed to be mentally, I took the time to get back to where I needed to be physically, and now I'm there. I'm ready to go. I've never felt better."

If, indeed, Quantrill is back to the form with which he entered the 2015 season, the Padres may have found themselves a serious rotation weapon. Many projections had Quantrill as a top-3 Draft choice before the injury, and some had him going first overall.

In his freshman season for Stanford, Quantrill posted a 2.65 ERA in 18 appearances (17 starts). He was named Pac-12 freshman of the year and earned a place on the All-Pac-12 first team. He was the first freshman pitcher to start the Cardinal's season opener since Mike Mussina did so in 1988.

"We feel like we got a value play," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "Honestly, if he's healthy all year pitching at Stanford, we probably don't see him there at pick 8."

Quantrill began his sophomore season on most preseason All-American watch lists. He started 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA before injuring his right elbow and eventually undergoing surgery on March 20, 2015. He hasn't pitched in game action since.

"I'm 100 percent ready to go," Quantrill said on Thursday night. "The moment I get the chance, I'll be ready to start pitching."

On the advice of Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery, Quantrill made the decision not to pitch for the Cardinal in 2016, though he returned to full strength toward the end of the season.

Before the surgery, Quantrill possessed a mid-90s fastball to go along with a slider, curveball and changeup -- all of which he commands well. In fact, Quantrill believes he's actually seen an uptick in his fastball velocity since returning from the surgery.

"I consider myself a power pitcher," Quantrill said. "I work everything off the fastball. Obviously, people talk a lot about my changeup. It's a good pitch -- it gets hitters out, for sure. But it's only as good as your heater. I'm going to attack guys with the fastball."

Quantrill was the first of five Padres selections on Thursday night -- the most in the Majors. To round out their first round, San Diego took high school shortstop Hudson Sanchez and Kent State left-hander Eric Lauer at Nos. 24 and 25, respectively. They added University of Florida outfielder Buddy Reed at No. 48 and high-school right-hander Reggie Lawson at 71.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m. PT.

As for Quantrill, he will walk at Stanford graduation on Sunday, having completed final exams two nights ago. He spent Draft night in a hotel room with his parents -- whom he says he "owes everything" to in terms of baseball success.

Cal Quantrill also feels as though he has a bit of an advantage going forward, considering he grew up spending time in big league clubhouses with his father, who pitched for 14 seasons, including 22 games for the Padres in 2005.

"What you realize is that the people who succeed in baseball are the ones who truly love it," Cal Quantrill said. "If there's one thing you guys will get to know about me, it's that there's no one who has more fun playing baseball.

"I'll work hard, I'll do my best to be the best player that I can be, but you won't find someone who's happier to be at the field. That's something I learned watching my dad."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.