This will be my third time writing about Roman Quinn in less than a year. I offered this commentary about the outfielder last November, as part of our Phillies top-ten prospects list:
Depending upon who you ask, Quinn's power is somewhere between well below-average and slightly below-average. As a result of this, he is often compared to Billy Hamilton, as a burner with speed to spare and a heavy question mark regarding his ability to hit. However, Quinn has an average to slightly above-average hit tool, and enough pop to keep pitchers from knocking the bat out of his hands. He also has a good approach at the plate, working the count in his favor and taking his walks. If comps are your thing, he reminds me of a switch-hitting Lorenzo Cain.
Full disclosure - Quinn has long been one of my guys. He is an excellent defender in center, and he ranks among the best base-runners in the minors; he has a solid approach at the plate, and more power than his frame might suggest. Quinn remind me quite a bit of Lorenzo Cain, in fact, and he may well end up being better in the Majors than he ever was in the minors. His inability to stay healthy, however, has plagued him throughout his career - and he’s currently on the 7-day DL with an oblique injury.
Quinn hit .287/.361/.441 for Double-A Reading this year, with 14 2B, 6 3B, 6 HR, and 31 SB (8 CS) in 71 games (322 PA). As per wRC+, that line was roughly 25% above-average for the level. Over two partial seasons there, Quinn hit a stout .295/.359/.438, with 20 2B, 12 3B, 10 HR, and 60 SB (18 CS) in 579 PA. And I think that that is the sort of production that he is capable of at the big league level.
Stepping back a bit, it is fairly plain to see that I am a fan of Quinn, and I was beyond excited to see him get the call less than a week ago. He has only fed into that excitement by batting .400/.500/.600 through four games, with three doubles, a stolen base, and assorted magics on the basepaths. It’s only four games, of course, and it’s against the weakened competition that comes with expanded rosters - but this is the sort of performance that you want to see from a top prospect at the end of the season.
And I do think that Quinn is just that - a top prospect. His tools are fringe-average or better across the board, and his approach at the plate should allow him to get on-base even if pitchers do not fear his modest power. The comparisons to Billy Hamilton are all but ubiquitous at this point, but Quinn is not a slap-and-dash hitter. He utilizes the entire field, and is more than capable of punishing a mistake. There is some thought that Quinn could up his batting average by focusing on hitting the ball on the ground more, but it seems strange to stray away from the doubles and triples that he picks up by driving the ball to the gaps.
The elephant in the room is Quinn’s injury history. He broke his wrist in the Spring of 2013, and tore his Achilles tendon later in the year - and subsequently missed the beginning of the 2014 season. He suffered a torn hip flexor in 2015, and an oblique injury earlier this year. Quinn, like any player, needs to be on the field to be effective, and he hasn’t demonstrated an ability to do so. Moreover, one does have to wonder whether these injuries will eventually sap his elite speed. We have not reached that point yet, but it cannot be dismissed or ignored.
With the Phillies in the midst of a rebuild and zero competent outfielders beyond Odubel Herrera, it is easy to see where Quinn could fit in the starting lineup next season. If he gets that opportunity, he can contribute stolen bases and a decent batting average from the get-go. His ultimate ceiling is similar to what Jonathan Villar has produced this year - .290, 81 R, 16 HR, 55 RBI, 54 SB. And I’m all-in.