Team’s Trust in Roman Quinn Points to Overlooked Status

Roman Quinn was drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the first-year player draft, on June 2, 2011. The team drafted the speedy high school shortstop with the 66th overall pick, the one gained as compensation for the Nationals’ signing of Jayson Werth the previous offseason. On June 2, 2011, the Phillies were 34-22, with the best record in the National League. They held a two game lead for that title over the Florida Marlins.

The night before the draft the Phillies had lost 2-1 to the Nationals, leaving Roy Oswalt saddled with the tough luck loss. The night after the draft, Jimmy Rollins stole two bases and Chase Utley knocked him in as the go-ahead run in support of Cole Hamels‘ eight inning gem. Danys Baez would lose the game in the twelfth. Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes relieved in both games. Mickey Moniak had turned 13 years old just two weeks earlier.

Basically, the 2011 draft is already a long time ago. You can be forgiven for overlooking certain prospects that remain on the periphery of relevance for five whole years. It’s called prospect fatigue, and it afflicts a lot of long-hyped players who take a little more time to reach the Major Leagues than fans hope for, given their pedigree. For instance, as a hyped 16-year old who spent five years on top-100 lists, many would describe current Yankees’ phenom Gary Sanchez as someone who suffered from prospect fatigue. At a certain point, players no longer are the shiny, new prospect, and they lose some of their excitement. Jorge Alfaro, himself a five-time top-100 prospect, would also probably be described this way were he not so new to the Philadelphia fan base.

Quinn as a prospect has spent a lot of the last five years on the disabled list. As Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts discussed last week, he has been so consistently beset by injury that it took five years to progress to double-A (JP Crawford was drafted two years later and has banked more Minor League plate appearances). He’s been considered an organizational top 10 prospect, but saw so little time at double-A this year before missing two months to injury that it was pretty surprising to hear that he was rumored to receive an extended look as a September call-up this season. Jim Salisbury reported that he impressed the entire front office, including GM Matt Klentak, in Spring Training.

Quinn could be described as a less-extreme version of the principle of prospect fatigue. He’s appeared on top-100 lists before, and there’s been the occasional “Billy Hamilton, but better” comp, but he’s never received quite the level of attention of the players mentioned above. However, it is possible that in some accidental way, that injury bug could negatively impact his prospect status as if it was a developmental issue. He’s still only 23 and hasn’t really ever been overmatched at any level, either in the field or in the batters’ box. He isn’t in double-A after five years because he’s waiting for the bat to come around – he just hasn’t seen enough pitching.

Additionally, it’s possible that things like his change of position and being marketed as a one-dimensional player have impacted the public’s perception of his abilities. He moved from shortstop to center field in deference to JP Crawford in 2014, because they were physically on the same team at the same time. Crawford is a special glove at short, and there are few players in the Minors who wouldn’t move in deference to him. Reports were that Quinn could play a decent shortstop, but he’s better in center field and has a lot of value there.

He’s also marketed as a bit of a one-tool player in a way that’s unfair to him. Naturally, his off-the-charts speed is what attracts the most attention, but it would be a mistake to assume that is all he offers. By every report, he has a really well-rounded skillset. He’s a switch hitter who is most effective from the left-hand side, but has surprising power for someone of his stature. He will hopefully get on-base more than enough to make use of his prodigious speed, and MLB.com rates his arm in the outfield as above-average.

Now that he’s actually in the big leagues, the team is saying that he’ll receive a lot of looks for the remainder of the season as an audition for 2017. He could potentially have an everyday job out of Spring Training next season. It’s also interesting that the day he and Jorge Alfaro were called up to the Majors, he was the one moving a veteran Major Leaguer to the bench at a premium defensive position and starting in the two-hole in the lineup. It’s pretty rare to plug a player into spots that valuable straight from double-A, not just as his first start, but on his first day of Major League service time. It may show that the team has a level of interest in the player that is beyond what the public sees. As the organization with the most information about the player, that’s especially encouraging.

So, if your perception of Roman Quinn is of a player who you’ve been loosely aware of for a really long time, is only now making it to the Majors, and is just a really fast guy who couldn’t hack it at shortstop, you should probably reevaluate that opinion. The scouting reports, his performance, and the team’s behavior together indicate that we should all probably be a bit more excited about Roman Quinn than we currently are. He may be around for a while.

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15 comments

  1. Omar

    September 12, 2016 02:00 PM

    -
    -10

    Can he hit a consistent .280 & obp .330? Probably not….? No power, speed players get no respect in today’s moneyball MLB. This feels like one of those fish or cut bait type of tryouts for Roman. Roman better hit, run & catch that ball asap from now until the end of spring training 2017 or else.

    • Eddie

      September 12, 2016 03:12 PM

      1) Uh, yeah, .280/.330 is about what he has done in the minors, and what scouts have always predicted for him. Whether he will do that is another question, but that’s the projection.

      2) The idea that “moneyball = slow power hitters” stopped being true in about 1998 (actually, it was never true, but leave that go). Here in the 21st century, teams give thousands of at-bats to defensive specialists like Revere, Lagares, Hamilton, Aoki, Fuld, etc. Defense is probably more valued than it was anytime since the 1970s.

      • Bill

        September 12, 2016 04:59 PM

        Ben Revere a defensive specialist???? The worst arm I’ve seen in 50 years of watching baseball. Revere also took terrible routes to the ball.

      • Omar

        September 14, 2016 04:31 PM

        Quinn better be more Mookie Betts and less Revere if he wants to stick around.

  2. Edwin

    September 12, 2016 02:02 PM

    This kid could be really special if he stays healthy. Perhaps we can realistically entertain the idea of moving Herrera and trade him while has some value.

    • Omar

      September 12, 2016 02:20 PM

      Regardless of what Quinn does, trade Herrera ASAP. Don’t need any pouting “all-stars” on young, bottom dwelling teams. Good Riddance.

    • Romus

      September 12, 2016 03:06 PM

      Jon Daniels has said in the past he regrets not Protecting Doobie in the Rule 5…maybe he may be interested in getting him back. Maybe he would give up LHP prospect Yo Mendez for Doobie. Personally he is thinly wearing out his welcome with me…get annoyed at his plate antics between pitches…..I think pitchers and catchers also get a little perturbed.

      • Eddie

        September 12, 2016 03:14 PM

        Would you prefer players that don’t perturb the opposition?

      • Romus

        September 12, 2016 04:25 PM

        Yes…perturbed them with their bat and a hit only.
        His showmanship can get players injured.
        Franco learned last August when Jeremy Hellickson, a guy with a career BB/9 of less than 3, carved out a nice little 4Smr on his left wrist.

  3. Romus

    September 12, 2016 02:44 PM

    Spencer,
    Welcome to your new position at CA and good luck.
    Concerning Quinn….one thing the old regime liked to do is convert natural RHBs into switch-hitters…Quinn, Galvis, Hernandez at al. Usually non-power guys slight of frame.
    In Quinn’s case, I felt that was not necessary and slowed his progression, of course along with all the injuries.
    But learning and practicing to hit from a new side , only takes time away from perfectring hitting from your natural side.
    Case in point …Mookie Betts…both drafted in 2011…both came out with similar skill sets, both drafted as non-first rounders, only Betts was not asked to switch-hit. His progression was lightning thru their system.
    IMO, Quinn even with all the injuries would have been in Philly last September if left to hit from his natural side .

    • Spencer Bingol

      September 13, 2016 09:24 AM

      Thanks!

      The development time spent on switch hitting is a really interesting idea. Personally, I don’t mind the time spent on the skill, especially with some positive reports about his loftier left-handed swing. Regardless, I’m not particularly sure how working on that affects development time, but it is completely reasonable to speculate that it might have impacted it.

    • Ray

      September 15, 2016 05:36 AM

      Quinn’s development has nothing to do with being asked to switch hit. It’s the injuries pure and simple. Coaches and managers and the FO are not going to ask someone who doesn’t have the aptitude or baseball IQ to learn something that is too difficult to master. Obviously Quinn has the IQ and aptitude. His trajectory to the majors has only been slowed by the fact that he can’t get enough at bats in the minors nothing more. With his speed and hit tool we should be happy that he can switch hit.

  4. Bob

    September 12, 2016 03:11 PM

    Quinn was my favorite prospect at Reading this year moreso than Cozens and Hoskins and on-par with Alfaro. He hits the ball hard and is a problem on the basepaths for opposing pitchers. I was down on him because of the injury bug and my perception that he was too small. But seeing him live, he looked really good. I hope he can stay healthy because he’s got more than a chance to stick IMO.

  5. Paul

    September 12, 2016 08:21 PM

    I don’t have a “large sample size” for comparison, but I got to see Quinn in a spring game against the Yankees in Tampa in the early preseason. I hadn’t heard much about him, except that he was a really speedy OF with good defense, but probably limited in his bat, especially in the power category.

    I watched Quinn dazzle that day, in three separate ways:

    – On multiple occasions, he tracked down balls in the outfield that reminded me of a young Andruw Jones.
    – He hit a triple into the RF gap that, if the 3B coach were more adventurous, he could have sent him for an ITP HR attempt (and with the poor throwing by the Yankees on the play, he would have made it). And I don’t know that every guy even would have had an automatic triple on the play. He’s THAT fast.
    – And, most notably, he hit a HR ball to left that still hasn’t landed. When he hit it, I looked at the board to double-check the culprit, thinking it was a typical Maikel Franco moonshot (Franco hit a line drive HR in the game too), but no, it was this speedy OF with a “weak bat.”

    Will this all play at the Major League level? Who knows. But in one otherwise meaningless spring game, I saw enough to say that, if Rule 5 guy (and “too small” OF Shane Victorino) was good enough to become an All-Star OF and major contributor on 2 separate WS teams, I’ll take my chances on Quinn as having the potential to be a real 3- or 4-tool guy at the Major League level.

  6. PAMcDaddy

    September 12, 2016 10:27 PM

    Health is an essential skill, and one Roman has not been able to show.

    I wouldn’t expect a guy who hasn’t been able to advance past AA in 5 seasons (for whatever reason) to make a significant long term impact at the MLB level.

    Prospect fatigue might not be the issue here, but instead the equally concerning problem of wishing for a player to be more than he is…in Roman’s case a guy with potential who can’t stay on the field for a sustained period.

    That said, this team isn’t going anywhere for the next 3-4 seasons so there’s really no hurry. There’s no harm playing him now, or out of spring training next year unless it hurts his development.

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