If you haven’t yet given much attention to speedy Reading center fielder Roman Quinn, it’s time that you started. The Phillies’ second round draft pick in 2011 is making a name for himself as the catalyst for the Double-A Fightin Phils.
Described as a prototypical lead-off guy, Quinn has begun drawing comparisons to the likes of the legendary Rickey Henderson, a player that the 21-year-old isn’t quite old enough to recall seeing in action.
“I have seen Kenny Lofton and Juan Pierre and Dee Gordon right now. So, I’ll watch their swings and how they put down bunts and it’s game changing for me. An inspiration,” Quinn said with a smile while sitting in the home dugout at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium this week.
With a long road ahead to reach the stature of those players, though, Quinn is doing all the right things to develop his game and help his team the way those speedsters have been known to.
“He just changes the whole game,” Reading manager Dusty Wathan stated. “Whether it’s the opportunity to steal a base or just to get more fastballs for the guys behind him, the defense totally changes when he’s on base and when he’s at the plate. They have to change the way they defend because he’s a threat to bunt and steal.”
Sporting a slash line of .310/.349/.520 with a league-best 11 stolen bases through 25 games in his first season above A ball, Quinn feels that time he spent last off-season in the prestigious Arizona Fall League prepared him for action this year in the Eastern League.
“It definitely got me ready for Double-A because the pitching out there was outstanding. All those guys were either first rounders or had been in Double-A or higher last year. So, the pitching was good and I got to see how the umpires call everything and I got a feel for everything,” Quinn stated.
Previously, Quinn struggled as a pro, as he was tasked with much to learn after signing with the Phillies.
The organization wanted the youngster they drafted out of Port St. Joe High School in Florida to become a switch-hitter and requested the outfielder move to shortstop. With years of swinging from the left side under his belt along with a shift back to the outfield, the generously listed five-foot-1o 170-pounder is more comfortable and feels confident in his game.
“It’s definitely coming along, my comfort level, my confidence. All of it. It’s definitely coming along. I’ll say it has a lot to do with me getting more reps, seeing more pitches,” Quinn said, adding, “Baseball is a mental sport and I feel like confidence is the key to everything.”
Currently, Quinn is batting .290 from the left side. That’s a nice jump from his mark from the same side last year with Class A Advanced Clearwater, when he sported a .222 mark, and well above his .230 average with Lakewood in 2013, when his season was cut short with a left wrist fracture.
Coaches aren’t surprised in the least at the way that Quinn, who missed time early last season after having reconstructive surgery on his right Achilles tendon, has adapted to new aspects of the game and how he has overcome hurdles to return to full strength on the base paths.
“It’s his personality,” Wathan asserted. “He’s a guy that’s pretty level headed. He’s able to adapt. He’s taken to switch-hitting, he’s taken to bunting, he’s taken to the outfield and he’s getting more and more comfortable. I don’t think it’s shocking because he’s a tremendous athlete.”
Quinn’s presence at the top of the Figthins’ batting order is sure to be worth the price of admission all summer long in Reading. Here’s hoping that tickets to see the young spark plug will be available at higher levels and for larger dollar amounts in the coming seasons.