The Mets signed a middle-infielder today. Was it Jose Reyes? No. His name…Omar Quintanilla. Quintanilla was a former Oakland Athletics first round pick (33rd overall from the 2003 draft) that never quite seemed to translate his stellar Minor League career to the bigs.
It seemed like Quintanilla was destined for success as soon as he entered the Athletics organization. In 2003, at age 21, the infielder made his Single-A debut to the tune of a .358/.414/.491 line in 182 PA’s. The shortstop was bumped-up to Advanced-A full-time in 2004, where he smacked a .314/.370/.480 line with 11 HR, 72 RBI, and 75 R. Quintanilla didn’t skip a beat when the A’s promoted him to Double-A, devouring pitchers (a .351/.419/.521 line) like a young teenager to the new Harry Potter book.
2005 proved to be an important year in Quintanilla’s career. The infielder got his first taste of Triple-A (.346/.375/.538 line in 57 PA’s), enjoyed a cup of coffee in the show (.219/.270/.242 line in 143 PA’s), and was also traded to the Colorado Rockies with Eric Byrnes for Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick. Quintanilla struggled in his first full-season with the Rockies, posting a power-less .276/.342/.403 line in 349 PA’s at Triple-A, and an unimpressive .176/.243/.265 stint in 38 PA’s for the Rockies top club. He improved a bit in 2007 (.319/.380/.454 line at Triple-A), but was still unable to produce at the Major League level (.229/.280/.286 in 75 PA’s).
The shortstop improved in 2007, collecting a .319/.380/.454 line in 393 PA’s for Triple-A, but his former 11 HR-self (just 4 HR in 2007) was nowhere to be found. Despite the power-drought, the Rockies re-called Quintanilla in late-April, providing him with a career-high 234 PA’s. The result? A mere . 238/.288/.348 line. The 27 year-old’s Major League struggles continued in 2009, where he hit a .172//.273/.207 line in 69 PA’s as a full-time bench player.
Unlike his exciting 2005, Quintanilla’s 2010 represented a huge turn for the worse. The infielder spent the entire season in Triple-A (.252/.316/.353 lien in 135 PA’s) before getting hit with a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs rule. The Rockies granted Quintanilla free agency after the season, and the Texas Rangers scooped him up. The 29 year-old rebounded offensively in Triple-A, posting a fruitful .298/.369/.452 line in 234 PA’s, but again, failed against Major League pitching (.045/.045/.136 line in 23 PA’s).
On a Minor League contract, the Mets signing of Omar Quintanilla makes a lot of sense. In addition to his Minor League success, the infielder has exhibited helpful position flexibility (shortstop, second base, and third base), and has posted positive UZR/150 ratings at each position too (career 2.8 UZR/150 in 523 innings at 2B, 33.7 UZR/150 in 29 innings at 3B, and 9.6 UZR/150 in 691 innings at SS). There’s a solid chance Quintanilla makes the Opening Day roster purely because the Mets currently have no other backup option to starter Ruben Tejada. If Quintanilla could somehow translate his Minor League prowess–at age 30–to the bigs, the Mets could have themselves a very nice bench option in 2012.