Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 1/14/13
In a foot race, I’d place my money on Roman Quinn over any prospect not named Billy Hamilton. Heads up, it would be close — very close. 2012 was a historic year for minor league base stealers as Hamilton attempted 192 steals and was successful 155 times — breaking the record held by Vince Coleman. This feat overshadowed Astros prospect Delino Deshields Jr. as his paltry total of 101 stolen bases paled in comparison. In 2013, a new prospect will push triple digit steals if given the green light — Phillies shortstop prospect Roman Quinn. Video after the jump At the end of June, I arrived in upstate New York for a family vacation and promptly ditched said family and headed to the ballpark (They knew it would be a “working” vacation). The Williamsport Crosscutters, highlighted by former first round pick Larry Greene, was wrapping up a series against Auburn’s Washington Nationals affiliate 15-minutes up the road. Even more exciting for me was the chance to scout shortstop prospect Roman Quinn, a young 2011 draftee taken just after his 18th birthday. On the surface, comparisons to Billy Hamilton are difficult to ignore. Quinn is lightning quick, is considered to be suspect as a long term shortstop and is learning to hit from the left side to maximize his speed. The body type is different as Quinn is a few inches shorter, but his being more compact helps the up-the-middle infield profile. In pre-game warm ups, Quinn displayed excellent range, borderline average arm strength and hands. At present, it’s not the ideal defensive skill set for a shortstop, but the Phillies will give him every opportunity to stick. With Quinn’s athleticism and repetition, his movements at shortstop will become more fluid and technique will improve. As a fall back option, Quinn is easy to project at second base or centerfield. He’s definitely an up-the-middle player. During batting practice, Quinn was pulled aside for extra work on his bunting technique. He has the speed to poorly place bunts and still be successful more often than not. At the plate, Quinn was better from the right side, his natural side. His stroke is long for a non-power hitter, but he generates excellent bat speed regardless.. His flat plane swing is built for ground balls and line drives, but Quinn is strong enough to pepper the gaps and turn on the occasional fastball. I’m also impressed by Quinn’s simple set up and wide stance. His right-handed swing is easily repeatable As his .347/.415/.403 right-handed split would indicate. As a left-handed hitter, Quinn uses a wide open stance to “rock and fire” without any noticeable stride. Once again, this will help with consistency. Quinn pulls with his bottom causing him to swing under pitches too often. Teach him to utilize his top hand more and his bat speed will be unleashed. A secondary benefit is a level swing plane allowing Quinn to maximize his speed by hitting more ground balls and line drives. Quinn’s swing appears less natural from the left side, but impressive nonetheless. For a player new to switch hitting, one would expect glaring differences. Using Billy Hamilton as an example, four years in the Reds organization and it’s still easy to identify his weaker side. For Quinn, his .256/.354/.410 left-handed split is just scratching the surface. Roman Quinn is a sleeper, but not for long. As he begins to post gaudy stolen base totals in full season baseball, he’s bound to gain momentum much like Reds Billy Hamilton. Quinn may never steal as many bases as Hamilton, but his all-around game has the potential to become more well-rounded due to defensive projection and the potential for cleaner swing mechanics from the left side. This time next season, he’s my bet for top prospect in the Phillies organization.
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