Goss: Ryan Quigley pitching for that chance at the majors
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org August 31, 2013 6:04PM
Ryan Quigley, of the Lake Elsinore Storm. | Cherished Memories Photography
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:29AM
Joliet Catholic graduate Ryan Quigley’s professional baseball career includes time with the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League.
For a while, Tanner Roark was his teammate there. The right-handed pitchers became friends.
They talked several weeks ago when Roark (Wilmington) was with Syracuse, the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate.
“Tanner was starting to wonder if it (a promotion to the major leagues) was going to happen for him,” Quigley said.
It did shortly afterward and Roark is taking advantage. He is 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 19⅓ innings.
“I read where the Nationals may put Tanner in the starting rotation,” Quigley said. “I’m really happy for him. There’s not a harder worker or better guy around.”
Meanwhile, Quigley, 28, wonders what his career may yet bring.
He was released in the spring after spending last season with the San Diego Padres’ A-Advanced team at Lake Elsinore. He signed with Camden in the independent Atlantic League and was an All-Star in a league with former major leaguers such as Dontrellle Willis, Delwyn Young, D’Angelo Jimenez, Brett Tomko and Michael Wuertz.
Quigley’s performance at Camden was not unlike 2011 with the Frontier League champion Joliet Slammers, when he broke the league save record.
The day after the Atlantic League All-Star game, he signed again with the Padres, who returned him to Lake Elsinore. The season there will finish Monday.
All the while, he reminds himself of something fellow Jolet Catholic graduate Chris Michalak, an ex-major leaguer and current pitching coach with the Nationals’ A-Advanced team at Potomac, told him long ago: “If they give you a jersey, you have a chance.”
Statistics give false assessment of pitchers at Lake Elsinore or anywhere in the California League. Quigley’s ERA is 5.79 ERA, but he hasn’t pitched badly.
“With the way I was throwing earlier (at Camden), I thought I would get a call from somebody earlier than I did,” Quigley said. “There were no promises, just an opportunity and a roster spot.
“I’m not throwing bad here, just not as good as I was earlier. My velocity’s good, but I’m walking too many. When my walks creep up, I struggle a little.”
There’s no leeway for pitchers in the California League.
“I hope the (Padres) can see beyond ERA, and my overall ERA for this year is still 2.8 or 2.9, which isn’t bad,” Quigley said. “In this league, you have to keep a steady head. We have 15-14 games. The infields are rock-hard, it’s windy and the wind blows out.
“I had a game here last year where I broke a bat in half and the ball went out in right field. It definitely teaches you to keep the ball down.”
Mike Foltynewicz (Minooka), the Astros’ former No. 1 pick, said last offseason he hoped the Astros would move him from Class A directly to Double A. As it happened, he did endure a brief stint at Lancaster in the California League early this season before promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi in the Texas League.
“I talked with a couple of my buddies at San Antonio, which is the Padres’ Double-A team,” Quigley said. “They said they faced ‘Folty’ and he was throwing 98 to 103 (mph), no joke.
“The Astros were doing a tandem start where a guy throws 75 pitches and then the next guy throws 75 and they start every fourth day. In effect, eight starters. Now they let ‘Folty’ go longer with the thought they’re stretching him out for the big leagues. He wasn’t bad here (at Lancaster), but his numbers are better in Double A.”
Quigley’s hope for the offseason, where he said he may do some teaching at Joliet Central or West and give pitching lessons at Fuel Sports Performance, is that the Padres re-sign him and move him up.
If they give him a jersey, he has a chance.