Quinn is best of Phils' thin crop of outfield prospects

Posted: July 22, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - If you put together a depth chart of the Phillies' outfield prospects, the thing that would jump off the page is the lack of depth on the chart.

That is why Grady Sizemore, after missing two full seasons and failing in his comeback bid with the Boston Red Sox earlier this season, is getting what amounts to a long tryout with the Phillies in the second half. If the Phillies were teeming with hot prospects at their upper minor-league levels, they would not have been nearly as eager to sit struggling Domonic Brown and unproductive Ben Revere in favor of the injury-ravaged Sizemore.

Instead, they'd have the hot young kid in there.

Good luck trying to find the hot, young kid in this organization.

It could have been 27-year-old Darin Ruf, but he has been derailed by injuries and hasn't hit a lick since returning from a hairline wrist fracture June 30. Cam Perkins, 24, was hot at double-A Reading earlier this season, but not so much at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Go down a level to double-A Reading and you have Kelly Dugan, 24, and Aaron Altherr, 23, who both could be contributing big-leaguers some day but aren't likely to become stars.

There is a new guy in the outfield mix down at high-A Clearwater, and the moment Roman Quinn moved from shortstop to center field, he probably became the best outfield prospect in the organization. That's not good for the organization, but it is for Quinn.

All the former second-round pick out of Port St. Joe High School in Florida has to do is prove he is worthy of that distinction. Quinn, 21, still has much to prove, but will be given plenty of time to prove it. He was a centerfielder in high school and the Phillies decided to move him to shortstop after selecting him in the second round of the 2011 draft.

The 16th overall selection of shortstop J.P. Crawford in last year's draft made Quinn's return to center field inevitable. It became official last month when Crawford, the organization's next potential superstar, was promoted from low-A Lakewood to Clearwater.

"I miss [shortstop] a little bit," Quinn said last week. "I worked pretty hard at shortstop and I was getting better at that position, but whatever is best for the organization."

Nelson Prada, the manager at Clearwater, thinks the move to center field will be best for Quinn, who is hitting .232 with three doubles, three triples, and three home runs after going hitless in four at-bats Sunday against Charlotte.

"In my opinion, when you move a guy from the infield to the outfield, it is more relaxing to him," Prada said. "He's going to cover a lot of ground out there, and with the kind of athlete he is I think he's going to be very good in center field."

The Phillies need Quinn, a switch-hitter, to become a Dee Gordon clone, a fleet-footed spark from the top of the order. He has not been that so far this season, but just the fact that he's on the field is a positive for the Phillies. He missed the final 10 weeks of last season at Lakewood after being hit by a pitch in the wrist and he missed the first six weeks of this season while recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. The latter injury occurred during offseason wind sprints.

"What happened was I did a heavy leg workout before I did the wind sprints," Quinn said. "It was like my third or fourth sprint and it blew out on me. It was completely torn. I'm just trying to get back into the swing of things. It had been almost a year since I played.

"I feel like I'm close to 100 percent, but I'm not 100 percent yet. The doctor told me I wouldn't be 100 percent for about a year. But I'm feeling pretty good and I feel like I'm running as fast as I was before [the Achilles injury]."

Quinn stole 62 bases in 77 attempts in his first two minor-league seasons, but is just 11 of 16 so far in 48 games this season. Circumstances have made stealing bases difficult because the Clearwater squad was the worst in affiliated minor-league ball during the first half of its season.

"It has been pretty difficult, especially when we're down in the early innings," Quinn said. "When we're down seven or eight in the fourth or fifth inning, it's kind of hard to run and really get my game going. I feel like we're going to make a turnaround in these coming weeks and hopefully I can get my [stolen bases] up."

Prada said he will make it a priority to see that Quinn gets more stolen-base attempts, but the manager added that the centerfielder has to do his part by getting on base.

"He has some pop, but his game has to be on the bases," Prada said. "The mentality for him should be get on base, steal a base, score a run. He has to be more consistent at the plate. He needs to put the ball on the ground."

Quinn needs to be a quality outfielder because that's one of the biggest holes on the organizational depth chart.


bbrookover@phillynews.com

@brookob

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