Steve McQuail Interview: Blue Jays Prospect and the New “King of Cool”
Sunday January 8, 2012
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: We welcome today to MLB reports Blue Jays outfield prospect, Stephen McQuail. But you better call him Steve (wink)! A very personable young man, I have really enjoyed speaking to him leading up to this interview. He is not always the easiest guy to get a hold of- he basically lives at the gym and batting cages! At 6’3” and 240 lbs., Steve could be just as easily entering a Mr. Olympia contest or UFC match as he would a baseball diamond. The kid is ripped! A New York native, Steve’s father is a retired NYPD detective. Can you imagine growing up in that household? I doubt Steve got very much past his parents! But all kidding aside, it did instill a very strong work ethic within this baseball prospect. For as hard as he works and trains during the offseason, he still finds time to keep a winter job at the same time. Working Pedestrian Management in New York City? That is a huge grind. But for a ballplayer working to achieve his dream, it is part of the path that he has chosen. As glamorous as many fans envision the life of a professional baseball player, Steve is proof that the road to the majors is a hard one. It involves sacrifices and dedication. Steve wants this as badly as any prospect that I have ever spoken to. That drive should take him very far in the baseball world.
A 30th round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2010 MLB draft, Steve McQuail has shown strong play already. In his professional debut, Steve played for Auburn in the New York-Penn League. A league with a good track record of graduating talent, Steve tore up the league at the tender age of 21. He hit 6 home runs in only 50 games, with a .272 AVG, .341 OBP and .456 SLG. Just for good measure, Steve popped 12 home runs in 60 games this past season as a member of the Vancouver Canadians. With power in his bat and rated as a top defensive outfielder, Steve McQuail has game folks. So now that we know the background, let’s meet the man himself. Speaking to Steve, I not only learned about his career and journey, but also his mindset. Steve expresses very well what makes a ballplayer tick and what life is like on and off the field. If the Blue Jays are looking for well-rounded players on its future roster, they have a perfect one lined up in Steve McQuail. When I heard the name- I right away thought of Steve McQueen. Getting to know Mr. McQuail- I am definitely ready to bestow upon him the McQueen moniker of “King of Cool”. Enjoy the nickname Steve. You deserve it.
MLB reports: Welcome to MLB Reports, Steve. A pleasure to be speaking to you today. First question: who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Steve McQuail: I think it’s almost impossible to grow up in New York City and not idolize Derek Jeter. He is the definition of the words clutch, confident and hard-working. If I could possibly go about my game and life like he does, I’d be a special type of person.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Steve McQuail: I’m thankful to be a Blue Jay because I get to witness first-hand how the big league guys work. If you saw a cage session with Jose Bautista, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’d leave saying “Oh, no wonder he hits absolute taters.” His work ethic and perfect practice translate into the game atmosphere like I’ve never seen before.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Steve McQuail: I have done some good things on the field in my life up until now, but the moments that stick out the most are those that I get to share with my friends and family. The final home game in Auburn in 2010 I was able to go 5-6 with 2 bombs for a group of my friends that took the 5-hour drive from Long Island. This year in Vancouver, I was able to hit a home run in 5 consecutive games, including a walk-off bomb for my parents, grandparents, sister and girlfriend. Sharing my success with the people I love the most is what it’s all about!
MLB reports: What are your goals going into the 2012 season?
Steve McQuail: My goals for the 2012 season are all attainable without relying on chance. I’m striving to play everyday, like there is no tomorrow. If I strive to hit the ball hard 5 times a game and have quality at-bats, I will help my team win and be successful. (Editor’s note: One of the best responses to this question we have received in some time. Steve is very mature beyond his years.)
MLB reports: When you first found out you were drafted, what was going through your mind? What round did you expect to be drafted and what was the process like signing with the Jays?
Steve McQuail: I had no idea what round I would go… if I even went at all. The only thing I remember was that I turned the computer on 12:30 in the afternoon and didn’t move from my couch until I heard my name get called in the last round of the day (30th) at around 7:45p.m. I was elated, excited and starving because I hadn’t eaten all day. Signing with the Jays wasn’t a problem at all. I was on a plane in 3 days and out on the field before I knew it. (Editor’s note: Now THAT is commitment. I love this kid!)
MLB reports: What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?
Steve McQuail: I consider my bat to be my strongest asset. Though, since playing pro, I’m working to get my defense as superior or more as I adjust to the outfield.
MLB reports: How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game? Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?
Steve McQuail: Strikeout-to-Walk ratio is basically one of the biggest parts of my game that will help me excel deeper through the organization. This season was rough for me, as I did A LOT of swinging. Seeing more pitches and developing a better plan at the plate will help me define my identity as a hitter. Believe me, I am confident the strikeouts and walks will even out as my career continues.
MLB reports: Long-term do you see yourself as an outfielder? How important is “D” in your game?
Steve McQuail: I absolutely see myself in the outfield in the future. I pride myself in my defense, with arm strength and the ability to move. I’m a big but lean guy at 6’3” and 240 pounds. I strive to outwork the lighter “speed” guys because I know it will only make me a better player.
MLB reports: What do you need to do in order to be successful in this game?
Steve McQuail: In order to be successful in this game, I have to create consistency through practice and experience.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
Steve McQuail: I can’t worry about a time frame to get to the show because ultimately it’s something that I cannot control. The only things I can control that will help me on my way are my attitude and work ethic. These will translate into good play and a positive mental outlook which is a necessity during the grind of the Minor Leagues.
MLB reports: Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?
Steve McQuail: Almost every little kid has a dream about playing professional baseball. You create pictures and instances of how it’s gonna be when you get there. For me, it was dead on.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball? Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?
Steve McQuail: Off the field, I would say my number one hobby is lifting weights. But that has kinda taken a backseat since getting drafted because I just don’t have enough energy! But I love to relax, no matter where it is. It could be my bed, the beach or an air mattress on Marcus Knecht‘s living room floor. I say Marcus’s floor because he lets me and Matt Nuzzo crash with him in his sweet condo about a month before spring training. You can find us at the beach, movies or playing Call of Duty for hours and hours.
MLB reports: Do you have a favorite pre-game meal?
Steve McQuail: I’m not superstitious about a specific pregame meal. I am superstitious about having my Dre Beats on 45 minutes before game time.
MLB reports: Final Thoughts?
Steve McQuail: I’d like to give a shout out to the Vancouver Canadians. The front office, staff, fans and my host family (Mark, Sue, Carl and Megan) allowed me to have the best summer ever. Hopefully everyone can see me at the Rogers Centre one day. But until then, I’m gonna enjoy the ride.
***Thank you to Steve McQuail for pulling out of the gym long enough to speak with us today on MLB reports! You can follow Steve on Twitter (@SteveMcQuail). Steve LOVES interacting with his fans, so please feel free to send him any questions/comments you have. Or just wish him good luck on the season, as he would appreciate your support!***
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Posted on January 8, 2012, in Interviews with MLB Stars and tagged auburn, baseball, marcus knecht, matt nuzzo, mlb, new york penn league, outfielder, prospect, steve mcquail, toronto blue jays, vancouver canadians. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.