"I spent as much time in the clubhouses as they'd let me. I was only allowed to come down after wins, so it would be a good experience when he was playing on winning teams," Quantrill added. "As you spend time in clubhouses, you'll see which kind of atmospheres work and which types of guys are liked by everyone. You see what a winning team is comprised of, but I certainly had to do some learning on my own too."
Although he was exposed to baseball at a young age, growing up in Port Hope, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto, allowed Quantrill to become an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan and expand his interests to hockey. The right-hander played hockey through high school and says the sport contributed to his approach as a pitcher.
"I actually liked hockey a lot growing up. I just outgrew the game and became too tall and skinny, so I was getting crushed by the bigger guys," Quantrill said. "But it's a great sport and I still think I'd choose that if I was good enough at it. Some of the hockey mentality is what makes me a good pitcher. Bringing that aggressiveness and competitiveness to the mound was what I learned from it."
Quantrill took that aggressiveness and competitiveness and parlayed it into three Team Canada 18U World Championship appearances while in High School. Although he already had plenty of incredible experiences with the sport, he says those three years with Team Canada were his favorite.
"Representing your country on any level is special. While Canada is a big country, it's a relatively small baseball country, so you know who the studs are," Quantrill said. "You have this inner competition, before coming together for the World Championship. We had a blast, won a couple of silver medals and I got to travel all over the world. I think I've played baseball on almost every continent, so it's definitely one of my fondest experiences in baseball."
Because of his baseball successes for both Trinity College in Ontario and Team Canada, Quantrill was selected by one of his father's former teams, the New York Yankees, in the 26th round in 2013. However, the right-hander did not sign, as he honored his commitment to one of college baseball's most prestigious programs, Stanford University.
Quantrill entered his first year at Stanford as a highly touted recruit, which allowed the Cardinal coaching staff to tab him as the opening day starter, something which no freshman had done at Stanford since Mike Mussina in 1988.
Quantrill solidified his place at the top of the rotation with an award-winning freshman year. He led the Cardinal staff in innings pitched (110.2) and strikeouts (98), on the way to a NCAA Super Regional appearance, as well as being named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and the All-Pac-12 Team.
As his sophomore year began, Quantrill and the whole Stanford team had high expectations. The right-hander made two starts to begin the season and then heard three words no pitcher wants to hear, Tommy John Surgery.
"I actually tore my UCL right around my birthday. I remember being miserable around that time. The first opinion I got said I was going to be able to pitch after taking a break. The second opinion was that it was completely gone," Quantrill said. "I threw the first two games of my sophomore year on a torn UCL and I gained a lot of respect for the guys who are trying to fight through it at any level, because it was terrible and incredibly painful. After that, it was the right decision for me to get the surgery. It sucked, because we were coming off such a good year and were poised to do good things the next few years, but I couldn't really help the team with the torn UCL, so I had to get it fixed."
"The toughest part of the recovery was watching. Physically it's challenging, every day you have to be doing the rehab part of it, but that just becomes your schedule. What's tough is watching your team win or lose without you," Quantrill added. "If they're losing without you, you think 'I could really help the team now'. It's hard sitting there watching everyone else compete and watching them getting to do what you signed up to do."
While some people might have felt sorry and done nothing to help themselves during the Tommy John rehab process, Quantrill took a different approach. The right-hander decided to take full advantage of his college life at Stanford, graduating early with an engineering degree.
"I took classes in time slots in which I never would have been able to take if I were playing," Quantrill said. "I got to take lab classes, an internship and pursued my engineering degree, where I might not have had the time or energy to do that. Some of my friendships I made at Stanford outside of baseball are my closest to this day."
"Those two years went as well as they could have gone. I wish I could have them back on the field, but I think I took advantage of the time off to mature as a baseball player and a person. I tried to make those 16-18 months as valuable as I could given the circumstances."
Although the last two years of his college career were taken up by rehab, the Padres still invested the eighth overall pick of the 2016 draft in Quantrill. Because of the early graduation, draft weekend turned into one of the wildest weekends of Quantrill's life.
"I was at school walking, still trying to field phone calls from my advisor and teams, trying to figure out what we were going to do. It all happened in one weekend. Drafted, graduated, drove to San Diego, drove to Arizona and game on in four days. It was a great weekend and I got to celebrate it with all of my closest friends who were still at school."
The Padres threw Quantrill right to fire after signing his contract, advancing him from the Arizona League to Tri-City, before finishing up his first professional season with Class-A Fort Wayne.
While Quantrill finished the year 0-5, with a 5.11 ERA, he found out what changes needed to be made in the offseason, leading him to a 3.67 ERA with Lake Elsinore to begin 2017, as well as a California League Midseason All-Star and a SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game appearance.
"You'll either adjust or get crushed in pro ball," Quantrill said. "I think I came in a little naïve on what type of pitcher I was. I knew I had good stuff, but I didn't use it in spots I was supposed to and I didn't repeat my delivery consistently. I know what it is that makes me a good pitcher and what gets guys out, so when things go downhill, that's what I turn to. Obviously, however, there's still a long way to go for me to reach my potential."
While he acknowledges there is refinement needed, Quantrill's career is advancing rapidly. The right-hander was invited to his first Major League Spring Training this season, which was an experience he relished.
"I learned a lot. I had great coaching and it was really valuable to be in a locker room with a bunch of the older guys and see how they approach their game and how they make themselves better on a daily basis," Quantrill said. "Knowing that they've been doing it for a long time, I figured out what I needed to do to get to their level. I re-evaluated what my level of preparation was and I've been implementing it this year."
The newfound approach led Quantrill to his second consecutive Midseason All-Star appearance, this time with San Antonio in the Texas League, as well as an August promotion to Triple-A El Paso. In six regular season starts with the Chihuahuas, Quantrill feels as if he's turned a corner, pitching to a 3-1 record, with a 3.48 ERA.
Heading into the postseason and offseason, Quantrill knows he has to keep evolving as a pitcher and as a person, because everything he has dreamed of since he was a child running around in his father's clubhouses is right in front of him.
"We all dream of that call, so I have no doubt it would be awesome. But, if there's one thing I've really learned is that you have to focus on the present," Quantrill said. "If you're always looking at the stars, sometimes you're distracted from the fact that you have to accomplish goals at your level. In the off time or before you go to bed, you might dream of it, but when it comes to being at the field, you have to be invested in what's going on and then the good things will come."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.