Brock Lundquist is introduced on the videoboard during the Northwest League final.
When most Vancouver sports fans think of the name Brock, the name that comes to mind immediately is Canucks star Brock Boeser but the most popular Brock in Van City last summer was Vancouver Canadians outfielder Brock Lundquist and he steps out of the batting cage to take part in the latest instalment of C’s Chat.
One could argue that if a Northwest League playoff Most Valuable Player was handed out, you could put together a convincing argument it would have gone to Lundquist. The Fountain Valley, California native had three multi-hit games and reached base in five of the six playoff contests for the C’s to help them get by the Spokane Indians in the North Division finals before dethroning the defending league champion Eugene Emeralds. He batted .385 and clubbed two game-winning home runs during the post-season.
Lundquist made a good first impression by getting a hit in his first seven games with the Canadians en route to a .344 batting average for the month of June. The 5-foot-11 left-handed hitting right fielder fell on hard times in July by hitting just .161 but began to rediscover his batting stroke by hitting .250 in August before turning it on during the month of September and carrying it over to the post-season.
Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth round of 2017 out of Long Beach State—the same college that 2011 Canadians outfielder Jonathan Jones attended—Lundquist had a chance to turn pro three years earlier when the Oakland Athletics selected him in the 37th round.
The A’s couldn’t convince the 22 year-old Lundquist to turn down his commitment to Long Beach State.
“My team is the Angels. They’re about 20 minutes away from my house. I grew up watching them my whole entire life. But Oakland, I don’t really watch them at all, they just happened to draft me that year.
I had my mind set on college out of high school. I was committed to an awesome program. The program that I went to—Long Beach State—they’re really big, they’re well known for guys coming out of there, getting drafted and making it to the major leagues. We actually have a lot of guys active right now. I think there’s like 13 active major league players from Long Beach State.
It’s a really good program. I talked to my parents and I made a decision to go there to get closer to a college education. I’m still one year away from graduating but I’ll end up going and finishing my school probably this next off-season. That was probably just my main thing—just go to college, get three years in, get closer to a degree (in business marketing) and then get drafted in my junior year and come out of there and play.”
On his time at Long Beach State.
“I had a great three years at Long Beach. I learned a ton there. I learned a lot more about the game. My head coach, Troy Buckley, is probably one of the smartest guys I’ve ever known baseball-wise. He knows the game more than anybody I’ve ever talked to, anyone that I’ve ever met.
Last year we had an opportunity to go to the College World Series and we ended up falling one game short in the Super Regional we hosted against our rivals, Cal-State Fullerton. It was probably one of the coolest years I’ve ever had playing baseball. I really enjoyed my time there.”
On what he learned at Long Beach State.
“I think most of the things I’ve learned from Long Beach was probably mostly the mental game. Our program was really huge on the mental game of baseball and controlling your emotions and moving to the next pitch, finding ways to flush things out that’s happened to you either taking a ball down the middle when you’re up hitting. Just not letting your emotions get to you. Also, the competitive side. I mean, I’ve learned a lot based off my swing too. We kind of made some adjustments with my swing there that helped me out a lot during the year. There’s so much information given from that program. It definitely matured me as a player more. I know out of high school, I don’t know if I was mature enough yet to go play pro ball. Definitely coming out of college, I felt very comfortable and mature enough and ready to play against top-level competition coming out of Long Beach.”
Brock Lundquist had an on-base percentage of .364 with Vancouver.
On his second draft day experience.
“This one was definitely a lot different. I had my whole family there. I knew I was going in the sixth round. This was my year to go out and play pro ball. That kind of was the most exciting part because out of high school, you had a choice between college and pro ball. My decision was mostly going to college out of high school. Coming out of Long Beach, my destination was to go play pro ball after my junior year.
It was very exciting. I had my whole family there, my best friends there. We were just watching the draft and once my name got called, we were very excited. I had so many people text me and call me that day. It was a pretty cool feeling.
There was a ton of teams interested. I think the Blue Jays were the top on my list. I was talking with them a lot before the draft. The area scout down where I live, (Joey Aversa Jr.) I’ve known him for many years. I’ve played with his sons. He kept in touch with me coming up to the draft and on draft day, he gave me that call. I was excited, I fell in love with the team. I already knew so much about the team. It’s a place that I wanted to go and I was super excited about it when I got drafted by them.”
On whether he has been able to connect with former Long Beach State Dirtbag and Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
“Not since I’ve been up here yet. I’ve actually seen him down at the complex one time but he was busy doing stuff and I was busy in the weight room. We talked before back at Long Beach. He’s come down a lot to help out our program. He actually donated a million dollars two years ago and we re-did our field based off of his donation. He’s come down a lot to work with our infielders and take batting practice there and give the hitters some tips and stuff. He’s a really cool guy. I would actually like to be one-on-one with him sometime in the near future to talk to him.”
On reuniting with C’s second baseman Cullen Large from his summer collegiate baseball days and playing against first baseman Kacy Clemens during his college tenure.
“(Cullen Large) played with the La Crosse Loggers the year after I did. I didn’t really know him that well. I knew he was on the team because I actually went down there and visited the summer that he was playing and I watched a couple of games. We are really good friends now.
I met so many people that I became really close friends with, especially Kacy Clemens. He was actually my roommate and I played against him a week before the draft in college. He was in our regional, it was Long Beach versus Texas. I remember going up to first base and there was Kacy. I was chatting with him a little bit. Watching the draft, he got picked two rounds after I did.I was pretty excited. I’ve met so many guys already down here. It’s been awesome.”
On getting assigned to Vancouver.
“I was really excited. When I got drafted and came down to (Dunedin) for mini-camp, I met so many good people, the guys who were actually down here that I was talking to and became good friends with at the beginning. There was a group of guys that was going to Vancouver with me.
I was really excited about it. I didn’t really know much about the team yet or the atmosphere in Vancouver. Once I showed up there, you walk through the stadium of about 7,000 people, it was pretty electrifying. It was probably one of the coolest stadiums that I’ve played at and one of the best teams I’ve played on in a very long time and it was awesome.”
Brock Lundquist had 17 extra-base hits, including two doubles and two home runs.
On how his first season went in professional baseball.
“I actually thought it went really good. I actually came off an injury coming into the post-season. It’s kind of where I dipped down a little bit in the mid-season. I was coming off an injury. I was dealing with plantar fasciitis in my feet. It kind of pushed me off my a game a little bit but I did a lot of physical therapy down there during the season, making sure I was ready for the next game. When that finally healed up, I started to feel more comfortable with myself.
Once we got in the post-season, I wanted to win and so did the whole entire team. I was doing whatever it took for me to do in order to help out my team during the post-season. The result ended up turning pretty good.”
On his first post-season home run in Game 2 of the Northwest League North Division final against Spokane off Texas Rangers prospect Cole Ragans.
“I honestly don’t really remember too much. It was definitely an exciting moment. I do remember just going up to the plate, just trying to find something, trying to put the ball in play somewhere. I hit a home run off of him earlier in the season (in Spokane August 18). I saw the ball come out of his hand really well. I actually did really good against him quite a few weeks back when we played against him as well so we got to take a look at him a couple of times. I got to the plate and I think he just threw me a fastball up and in that I was able to get the barrel on and hit it over the fence. It was a pretty cool feeling.”
On being a designated hitter for the post-season after playing in right field during the regular season.
“Honestly, to me, it doesn’t really make a difference. The only difference is you’re not running around all game, in and out of the field. You got to kind of find a way to get yourself ready to come up for the next at-bat. For me, I’d go in the cage and take a couple of swings the inning before my at-bat and make sure I’m ready to go when I go up to the plate.
(Being ready) mentally and just to make sure my body was not cold from sitting there because it was pretty cold outside in Vancouver at night time. Being a DH really didn’t make a difference at all.”
Brock Lundquist is about to round third during his home run trot in Game 3 of the Northwest League final against the Eugene Emeralds.
On his second game-winning post-season home run against the Eugene Emeralds in Game 3 of the Northwest League final.
“That home run I actually remember. I remember coming up to the plate. Every at-bat, I’m just trying to do something and hit the ball hard somewhere. (Rollie Lacy) left the fastball up and I just got the barrel on it and it went out to right-center field. In Vancouver at night-time, that’s a tough field to hit it out of. I remember when I hit it, I wasn’t sure if it was going or not and it went over. The fans were just going crazy. The whole team came out of the dugout and was like screaming. I remember rounding second, just looking at the team and we’re all pumped up. That was a great feeling, that one. That was a pretty cool feeling.”
On the difficulties of hitting at Nat Bailey Stadium.
“You can also see it in the field. When teams come in to our stadium that have never played there before, they don’t realize how tough it is to actually hit a home run out of there because you go to other fields like Everett or Spokane where the ball kind of flies, they’re kind of short fences, the ball carries.
But down in Vancouver, it’s really heavy air. We got that huge wall in the outfield. You see a lot of guys trying to swing as hard they can and lifting the ball in the air. They think they crush it but really, it’s caught 20 feet in front of the wall.
My approach was simple. It was just making contact and find somewhere in the middle of the field to hit it at, mostly line drives. At that field, you can’t really lift the ball too much because a lot of the times, it’s just pop-ups. Once you get that one that you can finally get the barrel on and hit it pretty well, it’s going to go over but that was just my approach, just a simple approach. Just drive the ball up the middle somewhere.”
On getting to celebrate the Northwest League championship on the field.
“That was awesome. We all just sprinted on the field and we dogpiled. That was really cool. That was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. We wanted to win as a team because we wanted to win from the beginning. Once we were in the playoffs, we were determined to win and get the ring. I just remember (William Ouellette) threw that pitch and struck out the guy. We sprinted on the field. We were going crazy. I had butterflies because I really haven’t felt that feeling ever really. That whole next week was just awesome. It was an exciting feeling inside of me, my whole teammates, everybody’s happy. We all hung out, we went in the locker room and opening champagne bottles, squirting them everywhere. It was really cool, it was an exciting feeling, especially with the fans there. I think the fans really helped us out a lot this year. They brought everyone energy on the team. We were very excited every single game, especially when we’d be losing by nine runs and there’s still 6,000 fans there which definitely helped out a lot.”
On the C’s chemistry in 2017.
“I remember walking into the clubhouse in Vancouver and everyone was so inviting. I walked in and everybody came up to the new guys, shook everyone’s hand, introduced themselves, just made us feel comfortable and at home and made us feel like that’s where we belonged. We made good friends with everybody, with all the Latin guys and became really good friends with everybody. A lot of us actually, we hung with each other outside of the baseball field too and I think we created such a good bond with each other. We were able to work with each other really well on the baseball field.”
Brock Lundquist batted .274 and slugged. 411 in the season’s second half.
On how he describes himself as a baseball player.
“I think I have the Bryce Harper kind of attitude when it comes to playing on the field. I get on the field and just get after it. I do whatever I can to win, I hate losing. I’m doing whatever for my team that I can to win. I’m a big, strong guy. I’m a middle of the line-up hitter, lefty power hitter. I’m a corner outfielder with a pretty decent arm. That’s all I can really describe myself, I guess.”
On taking part in fall instructs.
“In instructs, we did a lot of individual work. The outfielders would be with the outfielders, did a lot like first steps, quicknesses in the outfield, taking good routes. We worked on our throws, being accurate with the throws, just every little thing that an outfielder needs to do to become a good outfielder.
With the hitting side, guys were struggling during the season. (The instructors) were helping everyone out. They do a lot of video on people. You can kind of look at your video and see like, ‘Okay, well this is what I’m doing wrong. Now it’s time to make an adjustment.’ So they’ll work with you on that.
That was a lot of information coming at me too and things I didn’t know but I definitely got a lot better coming out of instructs. Things that other people, other coaches can watch me and be like, ‘Okay, you need to work on this.’ So I work on that a little bit more than I’d work on some other things that I’m pretty good at which is going to make me a lot better outfielder.”
On his first off-season as a professional ballplayer.
“The off-season was great. I mean, I’ve never had five months off before in any kind of year up to this point. I was actually doing a lot of training at the beginning. I actually had hamate bone surgery. I actually broke a bone in my hand. I broke it in the playoffs and I actually got it checked out a couple of months after the playoffs and had surgery a couple of months ago so it was kind of a little setback but I came back up to Dunedin a month early before everybody. I got here on February 2nd before everybody showed up, did a lot of rehabbing and now I’m a hundred percent. I’ve been working my ass off up here for about a month and a half already. It’s been a grind but it’s definitely something that made me a lot better as a player. Right now, I feel stronger and healthier than I’ve ever been so I’m ready to go.”
On the circumstances of his hamate bone injury.
“It actually happened the at-bat before I hit my last home run (in Game 3 of the Northwest League final). I remember swinging at a pitch and I remember grabbing my hand because it hurt so bad. I ended up finishing up that at-bat. I remember I ran inside, got my hand taped up and just got back out there and in my next at-bat, I ended up hitting the home run but there was so much adrenaline that it was kind of that the pain kind of went away just because of all the adrenaline that I had. I think we had a couple of games left. I’d just finish up the rest of the season hoping to take a couple of months off from swinging, maybe thinking that something would heal up and it ended up not healing up at all so I ended up having surgery.”
On his mustache.
“It actually started my last year in college. We actually had a no-beard policy and we had to be clean-shaven before every single game. The only facial hair we could have were the mustaches. Everyone decided to grow a mustache. I remember our coach had like a beard contest or something. We were allowed to grow out beards for two weeks and whoever had the best beard was the winner but after that we had to shave and everybody shaved their beards and just kept their mustaches.
I ended up growing mine out since the beginning of the season all the way until Vancouver. I think there was like 10 players on my college team that had mustaches too but I was the only one that kept growing it out for the curls and (laughs) I kept growing it out and I got some wax and was playing around with it. I was like, ‘Okay, well this is kind of interesting.’ I just kept it, kept it going all the way through Vancouver. Yeah, I don’t know, I guess it was my trademark, I guess, or my style. I don’t know.”
On his specialized nameplate in the locker room.
“It was cool. There was a whole bunch of things that happened. People knew me by the guy with the mustache. Everybody called me ‘Stache’. I had a nickhame called ‘Bigote’, which is mustache in Spanish so all the Latino guys and all the American guys, they called me ‘Bigote’ all year round. It was pretty cool, especially in playoffs, there was a group of guys wearing fake mustaches, holding up signs with mustaches on it. It was pretty cool. I think that was ‘Stew’ (clubhouse attendant Johnny Stewart) that came up with it. It was definitely Stew that came up with it.”
Brock Lundquist did not make an error in his 50 games played in the outfield, 48 in right and two in center.
On shaving off his mustache halfway through the year with the C’s.
“I remember shaving it because it’s really hard to maintain. I tried four different waxes for my mustache and there was a point where it got so long that there were times it would take me 20 minutes just to get it perfect before the game. And when I go out into the game, I’m midway through the game, one side would fall down and one side would stay up because the sweat would moisten it up a little bit and the curl would fall down. But it just started getting too hard to maintain and I was kind of getting over it so I ended up shaving it.
I think it was karma or something because the next game, that’s when I got hurt after I shaved it so I ended up growing it back for the playoffs and we ended up winning so it was pretty cool.”
On what he hopes to accomplish in 2018.
“Probably (get) a little quicker in the outfield, field a little bit better at my position in the outfield. I think my bat’s really good but I think for me, it’s just to help everyone out and be the best teammate I can be. Put the team before myself. Learn new things, be open-minded to many different things and hopefully make the High-A team this year after spring training. That’s one of my goals but just come into the season, stay consistent and just be myself as the player who I am and to win another championship.”