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.