Not a Rookie: Carlos Quentin
Carlos Quentin was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round in 2003, 29th overall, out of Stanford. He could have gone 10-15 slots earlier than that, but an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery hurt his stock and kept him from playing pro ball right away. I was impressed enough with his college performance to give him a Grade B- in the 2004 book despite the injury. I really liked his power potential and offensive skills.
Quentin began 2004 in the California League, hitting .310/.428/.562 in 65 games for Lancaster. Promoted to Double-A at mid-season, he hit .357/.443/.533 in 60 games for El Paso. I saw him late in the season and was extremely impressed: he had a short swing that produced power to all fields, he controlled the strike zone well, he didn't strike out much, and he had more speed and ahtleticism than I had been led to believe. Atthough a big guy, he wasn't a slug at all and had more mobility and grace than expected. I gave him a Grade A- in the 2005 book.
Assigned to Triple-A in 2005, Quentin hit .301/.422/.520 with 72 walks and just 71 strikeouts for Tucson. The PCL and Tucson boosted his production, but given his excellent plate discipline and good health, I was very confident in him and gave him a straight Grade A. I loved the bat and felt his tools were underrated.
As you know, Quentin has split the last two years between Triple-A and the majors. He's a career .230/.316/.425 hitter in 395 major league at-bats, obviously not as good as expected, though he was more impressive in '06 than in '07 when injuries were bugging him. His strike zone judgment hasn't been as strong in the majors, and the injuries are obviously a problem.
What does the future hold? He has a much better shot at playing time with the White Sox than he did in Arizona, and he is doing well in the early going this year. I must admit that I have what I feel is a personal stake in Quentin. My liking of him in the minors was based as much, if not more, on personal scouting as it was on the numbers. As stated, his numbers were inflated somewhat by the environments in which he was playing. But I rated him so highly despite this because of what I saw out of him in person: the compact swing, the excellent plate discipline, the underrated athleticism.
If he stays healthy and gets the strike zone back under control, I think he's going to have a very good career, and I still see him as a player who could make some All-Star teams eventually. The main worry I have is durability: if he stays vulnerable to injuries, that could drag him down.