I think there was still a sense of denial in the organization at that point. For me, the real concerted effort did not begin until the December 2014 trades of Jimmy Rollinsand Marlon Byrd.
As the process moves forward, the pieces that will make up the future are beginning to come into focus. For me, one of the keys to that rebuilding process is the #4 prospect in this Philadelphia Phillies Fall 2016 Top Prospects countdown, Roman Quinn.
QUINN MOVES THROUGH THE PHILLIES SYSTEM
Quinn is a small, speedy, toolsy outfielder who was the Phillies second round pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Florida high school.
For the last four years, the now 23-year old has moved incrementally through the Phils farm system. During each of his four years, Quinn has stolen at least 30 bases.
That is going to be his role moving forward, providing on-base ability and speed at the top of the Phillies batting order.
During his time in the Phils minor league system, Quinn accumulated almost 1,600 plate appearances. He hit for a cumulative .276 average and .353 on-base percentage while producing 29 triples and swiping 159 bags.
INJURY STRUGGLES STUNT QUINN’S DEVELOPMENT
One major problem that kept holding back Quinn’s development was injuries. He has missed time every year, leading to concerns that perhaps his diminutive size will not allow him to hold up over the rigors of a full season.
“It seems like every time I’m starting to swing it well and get it figured out, I end up getting hurt and it sets me back again. It’s like starting all over again,” said Quinn per Matt Breen for Philly.com after the outfielder missed time this past June with a strained muscle.
Quinn battled back from that most recent injury to receive his first big league promotion in September. In 15 games he received 69 plate appearances. He scored 10 runs and stole five bases while getting on base at a .373 clip.
He also demonstrated his defensive prowess during the call-up, highlighted by a tremendous throw to nail Sean Rodriguez of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the plate during a 6-2 win in mid-September by fellow promotee Jake Thompson.
“I’m still waiting for a tool he doesn’t have,” Phillies catcher A.J. Ellis said after that play per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury. “Every game he shows off something new. That throw was almost a game-saver.”
SCOUTING REPORTS REVEAL QUINN TOOLS
MLB Pipeline currently ranks Quinn at #7 on their Phillies top prospects list, and highlights his injury history in their scouting report.
“Over the past three seasons, the speedster has suffered a broken wrist, a ruptured Achilles, a torn hip flexor, and, most recently, an oblique injury, keeping him from topping the 100-game mark in any one regular season. Despite that, Quinn has reached the upper levels of the Phillies’ system. Before the last injury, he was making excellent adjustments in Double-A, showing an ability to hit for average from both sides of the plate. He remains one of the fastest players in the Minor Leagues, one who is a major base stealing threat. Quinn moved from shortstop to center field in 2014, where his top-of-the-line speed plays very well. He’s improved his routes and jumps as well, projecting as an above-average defender with a solid arm.
A full, healthy season is the most important thing for Quinn at this point. That should help him develop into an athletic leadoff hitter who will wreak havoc on the base paths in Philadelphia.”
Quinn has already debuted in the majors and he’s hit wherever (whenever) he has played. But anytime you have as checkered an injury history as Quinn’s, you are going to get a reputation as brittle. The injuries haven’t sapped his athleticism yet, but it is fair to wonder if his body can handle the rigors of a 162-game major league season.
THE FUTURE FOR QUINN WITH THE PHILLIES
The hope is that the series of injuries are a fluke, a thing of the past, and that Quinn can step into the Phillies starting lineup as early as the start of the 2017 season.
“There’s a good chance,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said per Salisbury. “He’s making a great first impression. We saw him in the spring. He had a solid year. As long as he can stay on the field and doesn’t get injured, I’d like to think he’s got a good chance. He’s an aggressive hitter. He can run…can throw…covers a lot of ground in the outfield.”
Quinn stayed on the field for the Phillies in September, leaving a final strong impression – until he didn’t. On September 27 at Turner Field against the host Atlanta Braves, Quinn went 3-4 with a double, scoring twice.
But once again, the injury bug bit him. He suffered a strained rib-cage muscle that would make it his final game of the season.
“Resilience and reliability is important. So that’s going to be a big test for him next year,” said Mackanin per Philly.com’s Matt Gelb after the injury.
“It’s obvious what he brings to the table as far as making things happen. He’s a catalyst for a lot of things, the least of which is coverage in the outfield, so it’s a matter of whether he can stay on the field or not.”
WHY THE HIGH RANKING ON QUINN?
The injury history is going to be on everyone’s mind until Quinn is able to stay healthy for a lengthy stretch. For me, his talent is undeniable, and it is that talent that gets him ranked this high.
If Quinn never stays healthy, it will be a shame. As his scouting reports and the comments of his peers show, he has the ability to electrify Citizens Bank Park over the next half-dozen or so years.
I’m willing to make a shaky bet, for now, with a glass half-full personality that Quinn can stay healthy, becoming an impact piece at the top of the Phillies batting order beginning next season.