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Preseason All-Americans Nick Quintana, Cameron Cannon hope to lead Arizona back to postseason in 2019

arizona-baseball-nick-quintana-cameron-cannon-preseason-all-americans-2019-schedule-season Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

With the start of the 2019 season rapidly approaching, two Arizona Wildcats have been garnering national recognition from some of the biggest news outlets in the country for college baseball.

Junior infielders Nick Quintana and Cameron Cannon have each been named to at least one Preseason All-American team this spring.

Quintana, UA’s third baseman, was named a Second-Team Preseason All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and a Third-Team Preseason All-American by Perfect Game USA, D1Baseball.com, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

On top of his multiple Preseason All-American nods, Quintana has also been named on the Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List, an award presented every year to the best amateur player in the country.

Playing in all 56 games in 2018 as a sophomore, the powerful righty hit .313 with 14 home runs, 55 RBI, 17 doubles and a .592 slugging percentage. He led Arizona in homers and RBI and was named as a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection.

When asked if he thinks there will be added pressure for him personally because of all the preseason accolades, Quintana acknowledged the weight of being a Preseason All-American but also noted that he feels capable of handling it.

“There’s always going to be pressure when you’re put on these preseason teams,” Quintana said Tuesday. “There might be more eyes on you, and you might feel like you need to do more, but you don’t really need to. It all comes down to just doing what you did that got you onto those preseason lists.”

Quintana also added that seeing how teammates from previous years had handled being named to similar preseason teams would greatly benefit himself and Cannon in dealing with the weight of expectations this year.

“We saw the guys from our freshman year and last year who were named on these lists,” he said. “Some of them did really well, and some of them sunk to feeling like they had to do good this game or that game and just over the course of the whole season. So, for both of us to get that perspective, I think will really help.”

Cannon, who played mostly second base last year but is in line to be starting at shortstop this season, also acknowledged the pressure of being a Preseason All-American.

But like Quintana, he seems ready to embrace the challenge.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Cannon said. “But I do my best to stay in the present and try to get better every day. Hopefully it doesn’t have a negative impact.”

Cannon is known as a defensive wizard and was named a Second-Team Preseason All- American by D1Baseball.com after he hit .321, with 8 HR, 50 RBI and a .549 slugging percentage in 2018. Like Quintana, he too was named as a First Team All-Pac-12 selection last year.

Despite his switch to shortstop, he was named as the 2nd best second baseman in the country by D1Baseball.com. Quintana was listed as the 3rd best third baseman.

With two Preseason All-Americans manning the left side of the infield, Arizona is hoping they will help lead a return to the postseason in 2019, after missing out last year for the first time under UA head coach Jay Johnson.

Considering that this is Johnson’s biggest recruiting class ever at Arizona, Quintana and Cannon’s experience will be pivotal in guiding the young Wildcats through the ups and downs of a rigorous Pac-12 schedule.

When asked about his realistic expectations for the season, Quintana made it clear that he believes the Wildcats are talented enough to rebound after a disappointing season in 2018.

“We are really young, but there is a lot of good talent, and I realistically don’t see any reason why we would not to be back in the postseason this year,” he said.

With he and Cannon leading the way, the sky is the limit for this young and talented Wildcats’ squad.

Arizona opens the 2019 season Friday night at Hi Corbett Field against UMass-Lowell.