|Roman Quinn, image- Tug Haines|
Originally forecast to miss the majority of the 2014 season, Quinn was back on the field by mid-May and impressed many with the strides that he took to improve his offensive game.
Playing in 88 contests, the most he's played in any of his three pro seasons, for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Quinn returned from surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles tendon that he suffered last off-season to post a .257 batting average along with seven home runs, 36 RBI and 32 stolen bases.
Selected in the second round of the 2011 amateur draft, Quinn, who was mainly an outfielder in high school, was switched to shortstop by the Phillies after signing his first professional contract. The quick rise of top 2013 draft choice J.P. Crawford, a natural shortstop, did away with the need for Quinn to continue manning an infield spot. He was repositioned back to center field, a change that boosted his comfort level on the field.
"It was good news to me, because outfield had been my primary position. It's like being at home and it felt real good to go back out there. It just took a lot of pressure off me and I can go out there and relax rather than worrying about so much," Quinn explained during a phone interview this week.
According to the five-foot-10 170-pound Quinn, he knew for much of this year that the Phillies wanted him to see some extra game action over the off-season to make up for time missed due to his injury.
"We definitely had plans for off-season ball after I missed the first couple months of the season," Quinn stated. "We were definitely going to do something in the off-season, that's what my outfield coordinator Andy Abad was telling me."
The 21-year-old Florida native will take the field with some specific goals in mind, recognizing areas of his game that need improvement.
"I just want to improve my at bats from the left side and work on my routes out there (in the outfield). I think I can get better jumps. It's just the little things like that. I would love to cut down on my strike outs and improve my walk-to-strike out ratio. I think I need to play in more games since I missed quite a bit of time," Quinn asserted.
A natural right-handed hitter, Quinn, who began switch-hitting at the behest of the Phils after turning pro, struggled somewhat from the left side this past season, posting a .227/.323/.349 line as a lefty batter compared to 327/.391/.418 as a righty. He struck out 80 times while walking 36 times this season.
The news that he'd be seeing his playing time in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, which features many top prospects each year, was something that excited Quinn. Recent graduates of the AFL include Jedd Gyorko, Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, who were all there in 2011. Quinn sees the pace at which the league's top performers can reach the big leagues and looks forward to his opportunity to shine.
"It's definitely an honor, man. Just to be playing with guys at such a high level and (who are) considered the top prospects in their organization, you know, I've been looking forward to it, so I was very happy when I was told I was coming out here," Quinn said.
Joining Quinn on the Scottsdale Scorpions roster from the Phillies will be catcher Logan Moore along with pitchers Adam Morgan, Colton Murray, Ryan O'Sullivan, Ethan Stewart and Nefi Ogando. Lehigh Valley pitching coach Ray Burris is also working with the team.
The league's schedule gets underway Tuesday afternoon with Scottsdale's opening contest taking place in the evening against Salt River.