If you believe the Padres, Tommy John surgery isn't the deterrent that it used to be. Several pitchers with cleaner injury histories still remained atop the board, including Jason Groome, widely believed to be the most talented hurler in the draft, but the San Diego Padres selected former Stanford ace Cal Quantrill with the eight overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
After a breakout 2014 freshman campaign, the 6'3", 185 pound right-hander pitched in just three games for the Cardinal in 2015 before tearing his UCL. He then underwent reconstructive Tommy John surgery, for which the window for return is roughly 12-18 months.
According to MLB Network, he's held a workout for big league teams to prove that he's physically ready to pitch again. Evidently, the showcase must have impressed the Padres, who hadn't been shy about being in on Quantrill from the start.
However, his injury history made Quantrill a somewhat higher-risk, higher reward for the Padres, although ESPN insider Keith Law had no doubts about Quantrill's potential:
"Quantrill was a potential 1-1 (No. 1 overall) pick had he stayed healthy through the draft, and the 6-foot-3 right-hander could be huge value," Law wrote.
Quantrill only pitched in 20 games for the Cardinal over two years on the field (2014 and 2015), but posted a 2.57 ERA in 129.1 innings. He displayed strong command, striking out 118 while walking just 42 over his career on the Farm. When right, Quantrill employs a fastball that can touch 94 MPH and a devastating changeup.
Another plus for San Diego: makeup shouldn't be an issue for a guy who will graduate in just three years as an engineer.
Quantrill didn't pitch in 2016, but still was named to the watch list for the Golden Spikes Award, essentially college baseball's version of the Heisman.
This wasn't the first time Quantrill was drafted -- the New York Yankees selected him in the 26th round in 2013, but he opted to honor his commitment to Stanford instead.
You don't have to go back very far to find the last time Stanford had a pitcher selected in the first round -- Mark Appel was taken number one overall by the Houston Astros in 2013. So far, his success has been at best mixed in the minors (5.04 ERA), but is now pitching in Triple-A for the franchise. He was also drafted eighth by the Pirates in 2012, but opted to return to school.
However, it seems unlikely that Quantrill will follow in Appel's footsteps. Some have speculated that he didn't pitch for Stanford in 2016 because he "signed a pre-draft deal with a team," ostensibly San Diego.