Senior Garrett Queen signs letter of intent to play baseball at University of Portland

by: ANDREW MATHESON/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Garrett Queen connects earlier this year in a doubleheader against Pendleton.

Like most people at this time of the year, with snow still covering parts of Prineville and temperatures dipping well below freezing, Garrett Queen is thinking of the warmer months in the spring and summer.
   However, unlike most people, it's not because of the weather.
   Queen, a senior at Crook County High School, signed a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 12 to play baseball next year at the University of Portland. Come spring, he'll roam the outfield for the final season as a Cowboy until he reports in 2007 as a Pilot.
   "Just playing (Division-I) ball, that's always been a dream for me," Queen said. "That and playing pro ball. I'll just keep working out and see where it takes me."
   Queen, the captain of the Cowboys baseball team, was selected to the All-Intermountain Conference first team and was an All-State honorable mention selection last year. While playing mostly center field for the Cowboys, he batted .480 last season, and this winter has been in the batting cages about four to five times a week along with Cowboys coach Chris Felton.
   "Just with his work ethic and how hard he's been trying to improve in the off-season, he wanted to play at a higher level and everyday he takes steps to reach that goal," Felton said. "He is a very fundamentally sound baseball player who takes advantage of every opportunity to keep getting better. He's solid with a lot more room to grow."
   At UP, Queen will be under the guidance of Head Coach Chris Sperry, who first saw Queen in Corvallis at a workout sponsored by Baseball Northwest in June.
   "Just based on his performance, he stuck out to me as a strong physical kid that could compete right away at the college level," Sperry said. Sperry also saw Queen in October at the Baseball Northwest Senior Fall Classic in Arizona. There, organizers conducted a SPARQ (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness) test among the 700-800 players competing, and Queen ranked fifth or sixth, according to Sperry, who noticed the speed Queen played with.
   "We knew he was a great athlete," Sperry said. "He's got good [molding] clay to work with."
   Queen had an official visit to the campus at UP and dormed with another baseball player, a freshman, to get an idea of life in college. Additionally, he sat through classes, talked with coaches and teachers and players, and in the end, he said "the campus just felt right. It felt like it could be a perfect fit, both academically and athletically."
   Since then, he's increased his off-season workout with additional throwing, batting, and sessions in the weight room. Said Sperry, "Even though he's not real big, he has a mature body and a physical presence."
   Of the five recruits that signed with UP, Queen was the only outfielder. And with UP graduating at least three outfielders this year (possibly four after redshirting requirements), Queen will "put some pressure on some guys to play as a freshmen," Sperry said.
   Sperry added that, like most players coming out of high school, adjustments at the plate will be needed. Pitchers throw with more velocity, throw tighter breaking balls and throw better change-ups more consistently in college, so adjustments at the plate are key.
   "I was pretty confident that he was not only the athlete we look for, but the fit we look for at UP," Sperry said. "This was a guy we felt was a Pilot."
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