A number of last year’s league winners struck gold with Carlos Quentin. Quentin was a former stud prospect (Baseball America ranking of the 20th top prospect in 2006 and 22nd in 2005) who came into last season with no guaranteed job and a career line of .230 avg, 14 HR, 63 RBIs in 395 ABs in the majors. He went on to have a monster season (.288, 36, 100) and if not for injury probably would have won the AL MVP last season.
Utilizing a late round draft pick or your last auction dollar on this year’s Carlos Quentin can send you straight to the top of your league. So we are looking for a player who was a stud prospect but has since had little success in the majors and is fighting for a role this spring. That would exclude guys like Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCuthcin, Reid Brignac or Travis Snider for they have yet to really have a shot at a full-time gig. Here are some players that meet the criteria:
Brandon Wood (3B/SS, LAA) – BA Ranking: 2008 #16; 2007 #8; 2006 #3
Wood has a career line of .191 Avg, 14 R, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 4 SBs in 183 major league at bats. At this point, Wood has been a major bust in the majors. Yet in the minors he has torn the cover off the ball hitting .296 with 31 HRs and 84 RBIs in 395 AAA at bats last season. He’s been hot this spring and may force Mike Scioscia’s hand to keep him up with the big club. If the Angels find a regular spot for him via injury, trade or benching, Wood could be this year’s Carlos Quentin.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL) – BA Ranking: 2008 #22; 2007 #18; 2006 #32
Gonzalez has a career line of .242 avg, 31 R, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 4 SB in 302 major league at bats. He was rushed to the majors last year while on the A’s and has since been traded to the Rockies. Gonzalez is fighting for a starting left fielder spot and given the compeition (Matt Murton, Scott Podsednik and Dexter Fowler) he should get a fair shot. Ian Stewart could steal some at bats as Clint Hurdle will try to get him in the line-up as much as possible. The change of scenery combined with benefits of Coors Field could help Gonazalez be this year’s Carlos Quentin.
Andy LaRoche (3B, PIT) – BA Ranking: 2008 #31; 2007 #19; 2006 #19
LaRoche has a career line of .184 avg, 33 R, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 4 SB in 316 major league at bats. LaRoche is the starting 3B for the Pirates this year after a trade from the Dodgers last year uniting him with his brother. He hit over .300 in nearly every stop in the minors with decent power and very low strike-out totals. If everything clicks for LaRoche he could be this year’s Carlos Quentin.
Ian Stewart (3B, COL) – BA Ranking: 2008 #38; 2007 #46; 2006 #16
Stewart has a career line of .252 avg, 36 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 1 SB in 309 major league at bats. Stewart saw some significant time at 3B last season when Todd Helton went down with an injury and Garrett Atkins moved accross the diamond to 1B. It seems like Stewart has been a prospect for a decade. Stewart will see some time in the OF this season, possibly some time at 2B and will certainly see some time at 3B. With Todd Helton’s injury history, it’s pretty likely that Atkins will see some major time at 1B leaving 3B for Stewart and that could cause Ian Stewart to be this year’s Carlos Quentin.
A number of guys will have breakout seasons. Some of those may be Jay Bruce, Colby Rasmus, Cameron Maybin, Travis Snider, Matt Wieters, Andrew McCutchen, Elvis Andrus, Matt Laporta, Reid Brignac or Dexter Fowler. But those guys are stud prospects who have not yet tasted the sour taste of major league failure like Carlos Quentin did before his breakout season. Good luck in finding that diamond in the rough…..it could make your season.