Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
2005-07-14 15:44
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The more I read about Omar Quintanilla, acquired along with Eric Byrnes from Oakland for Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick, the more I like him. Quintanilla's reputation in Oakland might have been tarnished somewhat by the fact that he doesn't walk a lot and he put up his best numbers in extremely offense-friendly environments. Well, now he has a shot to play every day in the best hitter's park this side of the Mexican League. The results could be interesting.

Omar Quintanilla, 5'9", 190, was born 10/24/1981. He played his college ball at Texas and was selected in the supplemental round of the 2003 draft by the Athletics. Quintanilla swings lefty and has played short his whole college and pro career. All of the prospect books project him as a major league second baseman, however, due both to his perceived lack of range and the presence in Oakland of Bobby Crosby. This fits in right with Colorado's plans, as we have a gaping void at second compared with a rather long list of shortstop candidates.

Quintanilla started hitting -- .341 at Vancouver in '03, .315 at Modesto and .351 at Midland in '04 -- as soon as he became a pro. This year at Midland (AA) his average has gone down but he's increased his walk rate. The number that stands out with Omar is 64 doubles in about 1000 at-bats. The experts say that he makes up for his lack of selectiveness by making ringing contact with nearly everything he swings at. This could translate very well to Denver baseball, although thinking pessimistically it could also mean brutal home/road splits.

The authority most bullish on Omar Quintanilla's future prospects is John Sickels, whose Baseball Prospect Book 2005 provides a qualified rave: "The sort of player who can get away with a mediocre walk rate due to his high batting average.... I am extremely confident in his bat.... My bet is that Quintanilla will be ready for a Major League job in 2006. He could see action sooner than that if there are are injuries in the infield. He looks excellent to me and should be near the top of your list if you're looking for a second baseman for the future." Baseball America has him 10th in the loaded A's system (ranked 8th overall): "he would profile as a solid second baseman."

The doom-and-gloom Prospectus is the least excited about his prospects, likely due to that walk rate: "Making contact in Midland is bound to make you look pretty good, and his power in the Cal League is pretty pedestrian afer you make allowances for it being a high-octane hitting environment." Of course, they had no way of knowing this spring that Quintanilla's future would hold even more high-octane environments in Colorado Springs and Coors. I like this guy's chances a lot. If only Todd Helton could take Aaron Miles out ATV-riding so we can see him sooner rather than later.

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