07/20/2018 8:51 AM -
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2018
Contact: Brennan Mense
Every time Adam Quintana takes the mound, there’s one characteristic that always seems to stand out. No, it’s not his six-foot-two, 225 pound frame. It’s not his glove, or his hat, or anything of that nature.
The one characteristic that easily separates Adam Quintana from other pitchers is his unique arm slot.
“Everyone asks me about,” Quintana says. “They either make fun of it or are in awe of how I can do that.”
Resulting in his brother’s insistence that he keep his motion over the top, instead of drooping down to sidearm, Quintana has a delivery where his right arm is straight and almost completely perpendicular to the ground; which is about as extreme of an overhand delivery that a pitcher can have. As a result, the ball is released from a spot directly above his right ear at a much higher angle than nearly all pitchers, resulting in a vastly different look for a batter as the ball leaves his hand.
At first it may appear odd, but if anyone is still making of Quintana’s arm slot, that someone probably isn’t an American Association hitter.
In his first season in the AA, Quintana has quickly established himself as one of the most dominating relievers in the league, and he has the numbers to prove it.
After failing to make the team out of spring training, Quintana would sign with the RailCats in the second week of the season. After starting out pitching in middle relief, he began to pile up the strikeouts and see an expanded role.
His fourth outing, on June 4 against Winnipeg, would be his coming out party. Entering in the seventh inning down a run, Quintana would roar through 3.0 shutout innings of relief, striking out seven Goldeyes in the process. The RailCats would rally to win the game in extra innings, and that outing would kick off a stretch of 12.2 scoreless innings and see him punch out an eye-popping 26 batters over that span.
All in all, after being released in spring training, scarcely a month later he had already become the RailCats’ closer.
As it stands now, Quintana has logged a 1.93 ERA, holding opposing hitters to just a .195 average against him. Among all AA pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched, Quintana leads the pack in strikeouts per nine innings, with a staggering 13.88.
His pitching coach, Alain Quijano, believes that the quirky arm angle has been a key factor in that success.
“The deception is certainly there,” Quijano says. “He controls it so well, and is so well prepared, too.”
After previous stints in the Texas Rangers organization and with the Frontier League’s Lake Erie Crushers, Quintana is finding the most success of his career in the back of the RailCats. Four years ago, however, professional baseball seemed like a dead dream to Quintana.
In the 2013 season, Quintana posted a solid season at Division-II Concordia University, going 7-5 with a 3.29 ERA as a junior. However, Quintana had academic issues that ultimately forced him off the baseball team, so he turned his attention towards the real world, attempting to begin a career in law enforcement.
“I figured my junior year was going to be my last year,” Quintana said. “I was going to be a sheriff in Riverside, California.”
Quintana went so far as to take and pass the required exam to become a sheriff’s deputy in California. However, a friend of his from home would not be content on letting Quintana’s dream die.
“My buddy Josh Alonzo would call me every week and say ‘come play, come play’,” Quintana said. “I was very indecisive about wanting to play, but he ended up convincing me about two months later to go play.”
Alonzo was already a college baseball player, and Quintana ultimately decided to play with his friend, though Alonzo didn't exactly play close to home.
So, after taking the 2014 season off, Quintana left the west coast where he had spent his whole life and followed his friend halfway across the country to Peru, Nebraska, a town of 800 people located an hour south of Omaha. He would be there to play one season for Peru State College, an NAIA school.
The decision would pay off, as his funky delivery overwhelmed the Heart of America Conference and put him on the radar of Major League Baseball scouts. Quintana would go 8-0 on the season, striking out 90 batters in only 72 innings. More impressively, he tallied a miniscule 0.88 ERA that was third-best in all of the NAIA.
A year after all but leaving the sport, Quintana suddenly found himself on the cusp of professional baseball.
He would not be selected in the 2015 MLB Draft, but following the draft, he immediately had the interest of Greg Tagert and the Gary SouthShore RailCats, among other independent baseball teams. Ultimately a bigger prize loomed on the horizon.
“I was going to play independent ball,” Quintana said, “but the Rangers saw me in a summer league, and they told me to hold on for a couple days and see what they could do and they ended up signing me a couple days later.”
After becoming a Texas Ranger on August 3, 2015, Quintana was assigned to their Rookie-level affiliate in Arizona, but was soon dispatched to Single-A Hickory, then on to Double-A Frisco in the span of his first month of professional baseball. Less than four months after pitching against the likes of Culver-Stockton College and Baker University, Quintana made his first professional start and pitched 5.0 innings of three-run ball against the eventual Texas League-champion Midland RockHounds.
Unfortunately for Quintana, that would be the high-water mark of his stint with the Rangers. He would spend the entire 2016 season with the Rangers High-A affiliate in High Desert. Pitching in his home state for the first time as a professional, Quintana would have an up-and-down season split between starting and relieving. Ultimately, the Rangers released him that offseason.
Once again, Greg Tagert and the RailCats would come calling, but this time Quintana would chose the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League for the 2017 season, where he would go 4-4 in 10 starts, battling injuries along the way.
Before the 2018 campaign, though, the ‘Cats would finally get their man. With some inconsistency and injuries behind him, though, he had his work cut out for him.
“He had to earn his way onto the ball club,” said pitching coach Alain Quijano. “He jumped through every hoop we asked him to…he earned this himself.”
His baseball dreams alive and thriving, Quintana has appeared to finally find stability in the RailCats bullpen after the twists and turns his career has taken. The results may tell the story well enough, though Quintana agrees that the bullpen suites him well.
“In the bullpen you just have to go out there and throw as hard as you can for an inning,” he said. “So, I guess I kind of like that.”
The RailCats probably couldn’t agree more.
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