SleepersMarch 21, 2008

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Sleeper Watch

By Chris Routledge

This time last year, there were two young Arizona Diamondback outfielders who many people were very excited about. One of them, Chris Young, went on to more than live up to expectations, as he blasted 32 home runs and stole 27 bases. Fast forward 12 months, and he is justifiably being drafted as a second outfielder in most 12-team leagues.

The other, by contrast, struggled all year with a shoulder injury, played in only half the D-Backs’ games, flirted with the Mendoza line, and hit an anaemic 5 home runs. Postseason, he had surgery to repair a tear in his left labrum and rotator cuff and was subsequently traded to the White Sox during the winter meetings. His name? Carlos Quentin.

Quentin has completely dropped off the radar in drafts this year. In a recent 15-team draft, I was able to pick him up in Round 19 as my 5th outfielder – the 274th player drafted, and the 73rd outfielder! That’s how little people think of him this year; and it really is not surprising after his performance in 2007.

Why, then, do I think he is a sleeper? There are a number of reasons.

1) He was expected to be the starting left fielder for a team which has several solid hitters in their lineup (think Thome, Konerko, Swisher, Dye, and Cabrera). Things have changed slightly since I first wrote this article; see the final paragraph for more details.

2) He gets to play half his games in U.S. Cellular Field.

3) His Minor League record (.313 AVG/.940 OPS) shows his ability to hit for both power and average, and even throw in a few stolen bases.

4) Long-term potential can be as good as 100-30-100 with a .300 average; probably not in 2008, but as a cheap keeper in 2009, that could be gold!

Early in Spring Training, he suffered a little soreness in the aforementioned shoulder, which is something to be aware of, but which should not cause too much concern. Ozzie Guillen took it easy with him, for precautionary reasons, but he also said that if it was the regular season, he would be playing. When he returned to the lineup on March 11th, he went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Bottom line is that Quentin’s health is the key to his 2008 production. He is going undrafted in all but the deepest mixed leagues, and that is probably correct. But watch his situation very closely as the season begins, and don’t be afraid to pick him up promptly should he show any sign of producing what he is capable of.

STOP PRESS – latest rumours are that Quentin is a little behind both Jerry Owens and Brian Anderson for a place on the opening day roster. Whatever happens, one of them will begin the season in the minors. Should it be Quentin, that does nothing to harm his sleeper status, and may in fact mean that he is even more under the radar. It might even do him some good in the long-term, as a month at Triple-A will give him the chance to get his eye in and strengthen his shoulder. In any case, he is still someone worth watching, and if he performs how we know he can, don’t be surprised at an early call back to the Majors.

Chris Routledge is one of a growing number of Brits infiltrating the Cafe, and is still on cloud nine after the Mets came up trumps in the Johan Santana sweepstakes! Catch up with him in the Cafe under the username chris8.
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