Carlos the Jackal

I went into spring training this year with very mixed emotions. On the one hand I was excited to see how well the new team would play together and how much better the Diamondbacks might be than they were a year ago. On the other hand, the Diamondbacks were so loaded in the minor leagues that you could not help but think ahead to what the team would be like in years to come. In these days of spiraling salary costs and constant player movement it is hard to be enthusiastic about young players since they seem to be with the organization for such a short period of time. But there are some players that you hope will become fixtures with the major league team for years to come. Other teams have had those types of players who have come up through their system. There are examples such as Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, Tony Gwynn, and Jorge Posada to name a few. So it is about time for the same thing to happen in Arizona. With the likes of Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Brandon Webb, and Scott Hairston on the horizon there is good reason to be eager for the future to be now. One player who I paid close attention to in spring training was Carlos Quentin.

Quentin was the Diamondbacks first round draft choice in 2003 coming out of Stanford. His professional career did not get off to a great start as he had arm problems that resulted in Tommy John surgery. This surgery sidelined him for a whole year and his setback landed him in Lancaster California to play for the Class A JetHawks in the California League. During his time with the JetHawks he hit .310 with a .562 slugging average and had a league leading 21 hit by pitch. He was promoted to Class AA El Paso where he hit .357 with a slugging percentage of .533 and was hit by 16 pitches. After the 2004 season he was named one of the Top 50 minor league prospects at number 29. He spent all of 2005 in Tucson playing for the Class AAA Sidewinders where he hit .301 with a .520 slugging percentage and was hit by 29 pitches. He was again named to the Top 50 minor league prospects at number 41.

Going into spring training it was clear that Quentin had very little to prove at the minor league level. He played in 25 games during spring training and hit .286 with a .554 slugging percentage against major league pitching. He was also plunked 3 times during spring training so he continues a torrid pace of hit by pitch. The problem Carlos faced was that there was no room in the Diamondbacks outfield for him. He happened to play the same position as Shawn Green who is under contract for another year and therefore Quentin would begin the 2006 season back in Tucson. During this season with the Sidewinders he was hitting .289 with a slugging percentage of .487. He had hit 9 home runs and had 52 RBI in 85 games. What is even more amazing is that he has been hit by 31 pitches so far this year.

When Tony Clark was placed on the disabled list, Quentin was called up from the minor leagues and got the start his first night in the big leagues playing for Luis Gonzalez. Carlos first major league hit was a home run to deep left field. Over the next two weeks he got spot starts and came off the bench as a pinch hitter. Each time he got a hit it was for extra bases. Through his first six games of the season he was 5-15 for a .333 batting average. Of those five hits, two were doubles and three were home runs. If he is trying to make a case for staying on the team when Clark returns, that is the way to do it. Besides his bat, he has also shown good defensive skills running down balls and making highlight reel catches. It wasn’t until tonight’s game that he finally got his first major league single. He is now hitting .350 at the major league level. The only disappointing part of his debut is that he has been in 7 games and he has yet to be hit by a pitch. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of Carlos Quentin. I only hope it is in a Diamondbacks uniform and not as a spokesperson for Band-Aids.

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