Rookie Profile: Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago White Sox
One of the best rookies in the major leagues this year also has one of the most unusual backgrounds. Chicago White Sox lefty Jose Quintana is 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA this year, with a 41/13 K/BB ratio in 62 major league innings, 54 hits allowed. His FIP (3.47) and xFIP (3.86) aren't as impressive as the raw ERA, but are still decent enough to indicate that he's not a total fluke. Where did this guy come from, and can he sustain his success?
Quintana was originally signed by the New York Mets out of Colombia in 2006, but pitched just five innings in the Venezuelan Summer League. He missed all of 2007 with a drug-related suspension due to usage of a banned nutritional supplement, then drew his release from the Metropolitans. The Yankees picked him up as a free agent, and he pitched very well in the Dominican Summer League in both 2008 (1.96 ERA in 55 innings) and 2009 (2.32 ERA in 50 innings).
Quintana pitched 38.2 innings in 2010, split between the Gulf Coast League Yankees and Charleston in the South Atlantic League, performing decently (3.26 ERA, 44/18 K/BB) but not rocketing to the top of any prospect lists. He finally got some attention in 2011, with a fine season for High-A Tampa, posting a 2.91 ERA and a 88/28 K/BB in 102 innings with 86 hits allowed. The White Sox picked him up as a minor league free agent last winter, after the Yankees decided not to protect him on the 40-man roster.
After an impressive spring training that saw him draw the notice of the White Sox coaching staff, Quintana posted a 2.77 ERA with a 41/14 K/BB in 49 innings for Double-A Birmingham before being promoted to the majors, skipping Triple-A. Overall, in his minor league career, Quintana posted a 2.76 ERA with a 334/128 K/BB in 300 innings, with just 221 hits allowed.
As you can see, Quintana has always performed well. A 23-year-old 6-0, 215 pound lefty, he didn't receive a lot of scout attention until last year. His fastball varies between 87 and 92 MPH, but he can mix in a slider, curveball, and changeup. While none of his pitches are considered outstanding, they are all workable when his command is on, which it has been so far in the majors.
Although I don't think Quintana should be expected to post consistently outstanding numbers in the Show, long careers have been made from less talent. As long as he stays healthy and throws strikes, I don't see any reason why he can't be a useful pitcher. Picking him up was a very nice coup for the White Sox scouting department.