Baseball managers have many decisions to make during spring training. Some are easier than others. The Philadelphia Phillies’ center field situation may not prove to be an easy one for new manager Joe Girardi.
With the self-destruction of previous starting center fielder Odubel Herrera, two players seem to be the most prominent choices for the position. Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley each spent time in 2019 serving in this capacity after Herrera’s suspension and Andrew McCutchen‘s loss to the Injured List.
Quinn was drafted in 2011 in the second round of the June amateur draft and has only played in 109 big-league games. Part of the reason for that has been his unfortunate bad luck in getting injured….quite often. He has been on the disabled/injured list ten times during his professional career to date.
When healthy, Quinn is a speed demon. He would be an amazing weapon for any team because he flies around the bases as fast as any player in baseball. Because of his injuries, he progressed slowly through the minors, making his debut in Philadelphia in 2016 at age 23. Quinn hit .263 in 69 plate appearances that season. He was called up again in 2018 and 2019, but again due to injuries he could not perform with any consistency.
Haseley was drafted as the eighth overall selection of the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. He sprinted through the minors and was called up last year and batted a rather impressive .266 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 222 at bats. Not bad for such a quick promotion, which came sooner than anticipated due to the McCutchen-Herrera situations and a later injury to Jay Bruce.
This young man was quite impressive in the outfield on defense as well, covering a lot of ground and making some amazing catches. Haseley also registered four outfield assists last year. He definitely proved that he belongs on the major league team in some role.
Since Haseley bats from the left side and Quinn is a switch-hitter, they will both probably see time in center field, at least at the start of the 2020 season. Neither is hitting well in spring training, however.
Haseley will probably get to play some left field as well because of his versatility and because the Phillies will want to rest the now 32-year-old Bruce at times. Nick Williams and Matt Szczur are still on the roster as well, at least for now. It’s nice to see some competition out there. The Phillies are further hoping that Mickey Moniak, who has shown great improvement over the last two summers, will be ready to get a taste of the big leagues later this year. They are giving the former top draft pick a lot of playing time this spring.
If I had a vote, it would probably be for Quinn to see most of the starting center field time this year with the Phillies. I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for underdogs. The man spent almost seven years in the minors and he deserves a break from the constant injuries that have befallen him to this point.
Last year, when Quinn was rehabbing from a groin injury, I saw him play in Harrisburg. When he came up for his first at bat, BOOM! He gets hit by a pitch on the hand. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt seriously in that instance. But Quinn attracts pain. If he stays healthy, he can focus on his hitting. He would be my first choice because he is dynamic. I love watching him run.
This is a lost art in baseball. Think about it. Bryce Harper hits a home run. The fans jump up and scream, he runs around the bases, high-fives Rhys Hoskins. The giant right field Liberty Bell lights up and rings, and a Harry Kalas recording blares “This ball’s outta here!” and then the fans finally settle down.
Contrast that experience to when Quinn slices a ball to deep right-center. It bounces around in the outfield corner. Quinn is already around second and the crowd is now standing and roaring with anticipation. The outfielder chases it down, fires it in. Quinn keeps running. The crowd is jumping and screaming. The third base coaching is windmilling his arms. Quinn is a blur as he slides into home plate. The catcher has no chance. “SAFE!,” calls the umpire with arms spread wide. Sounds of thunderous applause from the ecstatic Phillies fans fill Citizen’s Bank Park.
Now that’s what I call excitement.
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