By Tyler Waldrep
Growing up, former Oak Mountain standout Heath Quinn dreamed of playing basketball professionally. Whenever his dad asked him what his backup plan was, Quinn would always repeat that he wanted to play in the NBA.
On June 10, Quinn got the call that he had been drafted by a San Francisco Bay-area team, but it wasn’t the Golden State Warriors on the phone, it was the Giants – the baseball team.
“When I was little, my dad always jokes about this, when I was little I wanted to be an NBA basketball player, but I kind of realized I wasn’t going to do that when I got to middle school and high school,” Quinn said.
Quinn became Samford’s second-highest draft pick ever when he was selected with the No. 18 pick in
the third round at spot No. 95 overall. The only thing standing between him and history was former Bulldog Philip Ervin’s selection by the Cincinnati Reds with the No. 27 overall pick in 2013.
Quinn was watching the draft unfold with his family when he got the call that would change his life. His family around him cheered, but they weren’t the only ones.
“Any time you have one of your guys that is able to succeed after school it makes you proud as a coach,” Samford head coach Casey Dunn said. “Because we get to spend a lot of time with those people, our players, you know you’re going to have some sort of impact on them, and we just want it to be a positive impact. Whether our guys leave our place and go to med school or go get a sales job or go play baseball, we want to make sure they’re prepared to do that.”
To date, Quinn has earned six post-season All-America honors and finished second nationally with 21 home runs, 77 RBI and 165 total bases. To suggest Dunn will miss Samford’s all-time leader for single-season RBI would be an understatement.
“You don’t see guys with his strength that are as athletic,” Dunn said. “You know he runs well, he throws well, (he’s) a much better defensive player than people think. He is just truly a well-rounded baseball player.”
The honors are great, but Quinn wishes he could have helped the Bulldogs earn a championship before departing the program. Despite that failure, or perhaps because of it, he said the memory of Samford’s victory over East Tennessee State in his final Southern Conference Tournament, after entering the bottom of the seventh down 11-4, will stay with him.
“We got a couple runs each inning and came back, and that was kind of a big win for us,” Quinn said. “It kind of fueled us into the next game. We had back-to-back games there and we won the next one, and it kept us alive in the tournament, but I think everyone kind of rallied around that win.”
Before he could attend Samford, he had to turn down a 12th-round selection by the Cleveland Indians in the 2013 MLB Draft. Seven Bulldogs were drafted a year earlier, in 2012, so Quinn felt confident at the time that Dunn and his staff could help him reach his full potential and prepare him for the next level.
Being close to Quinn’s home didn’t hurt Dunn’s recruiting pitch, either. At Samford, friends, aunts and uncles and, of course, his parents could attend the games without too much difficulty.
“It’s great (that he got drafted), especially now that we get to watch it on TV, but it’s nothing like going to every game at Samford,” Quinn’s father, Mitch Quinn, said. “I hate being this far away.”
Since being drafted, the Giants have sent Quinn to Keizere, Oregon, to start what family and Dunn hope is an inevitable climb to the top. Quinn said he misses his family (and Chik-Fil-A), but he feels fortunate to be given the opportunity to continue playing the sport he loves.
“I’ve never been to Oregon before, but the weather is really nice and I got a lot of cool teammates,” Quinn said. “It’s just been a blast so far, so (I’m) looking forward to the rest of the season.”