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Bay Area Bashers

June 3, 2003
By John Manuel

The Diamondbacks' two first-round picks are on a first-name basis.

California's Conor Jackson and Stanford's Carlos Quentin have not only played six games a year against each other in the Bay Area rivalry, but they played together last summer with Team USA.

"It's a good feeling to have so many guys (seven) drafted off Team USA in the first round, but it's especially great to be drafted with Carlos in the same organization," Jackson said. "I can't wait to go out to play with him. We became good friends last summer, and he's such a great guy and a great player. It's really exciting."

Jackson and Quentin, along with second-round selection Jamie D'Antona of Wake Forest, bring the organization what it wanted out of the draft--power at the corners.

"We got two of the guys (in the first round) we identified early, early on in the scouting season," scouting director Mike Rizzo said. "Two professional hitters that have good plate discipline and good power that could hit in the middle of a major league lineup."

Jackson was primarily a third baseman in college, though he played first for Team USA last summer. He said the Diamondbacks worked him out at first, third and left field, but he doesn't have a preference. "As long as I get to swing the bat," he said.

Jackson, who is the highest Cal player drafted since 1966 (the second year of the draft), has shown he can do that. Though he missed seven games with a sprained right ankle, which he injured in the first game of the season, Jackson led the Bears in batting and home runs during a .388-10-44 season. He also had a 49-22 walk-strikeout ratio, and .538 on-base percentage. As a sophomore, he ranked second in the Pacific-10 in batting, third in home runs and fifth in RBIs during a .382-16-61 season.

Due in part to his plate discipline, Jackson said he believed that if he didn't go to the Diamondbacks at 19, he would have been drafted with one of the Athletics' two selections in the first round, Nos. 25 and 26.

"I'm excited to go to the Diamondbacks," he said. "They're a great organization that treats its players well. I know Brian Barden who plays for them and Sergio Santos (Arizona's 2002 first-round pick) from playing in the Area Code Games, and they like playing in the organization."

Quentin has been one of Stanford's most productive players for three years and helped lead the Cardinal to College World Series trips in each of his first two seasons. This has been his best year, despite a right elbow injury that will need surgery after the Cardinal's season ends. One Pac-10 coach said Quentin was essentially "playing with one arm, and he's been unbelievable."

Quentin had a 26-game hitting streak earlier in the season and was hitting .386-10-55, ranking second to Indians third-round pick Ryan Garko on the team in batting and RBIs and third in homers. He also had 10 stolen bases and a .482 on-base percentage, thanks in part to a 33-20 walk-strikeout ratio.

Quentin said he was excited to be in the same organization as Jackson, but his excitement got the better of him for part of draft day.

"I woke up real early, as I didn't have that great of a night's sleep," he said. "My roommates were with me and we were listening to it on the computer, and then our computers go dead. They are hovering around the computer watching the names pop up. And I just didn't feel that was necessary for me to be standing there.

"I just needed to calm down. So I sat down to watch some TV while the first names were being called. The next thing I know I hear a cheer and they walked out of the room and they let me know what happened."

Described by Rizzo as a prototypical right fielder, Quentin also has set Stanford's career record with 46 HBPs. He joined Jackson as a first-team all-conference choice for the second straight year.

"He's got a strong arm and he's got big-time power and he's a very disciplined, great on-base percentage, great slugging percentage," Rizzo said. "He's got all the tools offensively. He's a good runner and he's a good defensive player.

"They had tremendous seasons in one of the best conferences in college baseball. They fit into what we wanted, middle of the order bats and corner players."

Jackson and Quentin were the key elements to a college-heavy approach by the Diamondbacks on the draft's first day. The club took college players with their first five picks and 18 of their first 21 selections. D'Antona, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, was their second-rounder while Palomar (Calif.) Junior College lefthander Matt Chico in the third round.

Chico is a former Pac-10 player, having played as a freshman at Southern California before academic problems caused him to leave the school last fall. He was ineligible to play at Palomar this spring and went 6-4, 5.45 in 69 innings for the Trojans in 2002. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder was a second-round pick of the Red Sox out of Fallbrook (Calif.) High in 2001.

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